It’s been half a century since more than 60 black students from the University of Mississippi’s Black Student Union were arrested after protesting their treatment by the university’s administrators and white students. On the 50th anniversary of that event, the university welcomed many back to formally apologize for their treatment, honor their activism and sacrifice, reckon with the harm and trauma caused by the university and law enforcement that night, and seek reparative solutions.
This story captures that apology while recounting the stories of the former students, many of whom have gone on to have remarkably successful lives and careers. It also documents the former students’ plea to keep pushing for progress.
This story is important because it captures something rare: an institution recognizing the morally corrupt decisions of its past and documenting them in its public, institutional record alongside a promise to continue to make amends for the sins of its past.
This project was less about writing and more about reporting. I didn’t so much tell a story as I showed up with a pen and paper.
By documenting every word of presentations, speeches, and remarks made during events, as well as candid interviews with the students who returned to campus, the end result was an authentic retelling of that night and what has happened since at the university and in Mississippi.