At 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 15, 2021, Jackson State University held a special Commencement ceremony for the Class of 1970 on the Gibbs-Green Memorial Plaza.
For the first time ever, members of the Class had the opportunity to march in their regalia and receive their diplomas, presented by President Thomas K. Hudson, J.D.
In the late hours of May 14 and into the early morning of May 15, 1970, Jackson City Police and Mississippi Highway Patrolmen marched on the Jackson State campus and fired nearly 500 rounds of ammunition in 28 seconds into Alexander Hall, a women’s dormitory. Phillip Lafayette Gibbs, a Junior political science major, and James Earl Green, a senior at nearby Jim Hill High School were killed. Twelve others were shot, and dozens were injured by flying debris, glass, and brick in the ensuing chaos. No police officer was ever held accountable.
Shortly after the shootings, the campus was closed, and graduation ceremonies for the Class of 1970 were canceled. In 2020, as part of the 50th commemoration of the Gibbs-Green tragedy, Jackson State invited the Class to participate in the spring Commencement ceremonies, but the Coronavirus pandemic intervened. For the second time in 50 years, the Class of 1970 had its Commencement canceled under tragic circumstances.
On Saturday, May 15, 2021, marking the 51st commemoration of the Gibbs-Green tragedy, the Commencement ceremony for the Class of 1970 featured Dr. John A. Peoples, President Emeritus, who addressed the Class, and a posthumous presentation of Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters on behalf of Phillip Gibbs and James Green to their families as well as other special presentations from honored guests.