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Diversity and Inclusion

History

Timeline of African Americans at USM

1955

 

Clyde KennardClyde Kennard

Clyde Kennard, the first African American to attempt to enroll at USM, submits the first of three formal applications to Mississippi Southern College (University name at the time), seeking to become the first Black student. Watch a documentary and read his story




1965

Gwendolyn-Elaine-ArmstrongRaylwani BranchRaylawni Branch and Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong

Southern Miss enrolls its first African American students, Raylawni Branch and Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong.



1968

 

ASSO Logo
ASSO

First African American Student Organization, the Afro-American Cultural Society is formed.





1969

 

Walter Washington
Dr. Walter Washington

Dr. Walter Washington becomes the first African American to earn a doctoral degree from Southern Miss, also making him the first from any Mississippi institution of higher learning.




1968

 

Wilbert Jordan

Wilbert Jordan

Basketball player, Wilbert Jordan, becomes the University's first African American student-athlete.



1974


Fred Crook

Fred Crook

Fred Cook is selected as the University's first African American Mr. USM.





1980


Jacqueline Redd
Jacqueline Redd

Jacqueline Redd is selected as the University's first African American Homecoming Queen.





1993

 

Kennard Washington HallDr. Walter Washington and Clyde Kennard

At a University celebration honoring the contributions of African American students, faculty and staff, the Student Services Building is renamed Kennard-Washington Hall in honor of Dr. Walter Washington and Clyde Kennard.





2013


President Bennett
First African American president

Dr. Rodney D. Bennett becomes the University’s 10th president and first African American president of any predominantly white university in the state of Mississippi.




2013

 

Armstrong Branch Plaza
The Armstrong-Branch Pedestrian Plaza

The Armstrong-Branch Pedestrian Plaza is named and dedicated to honor the courage of the first African American students, Raylawni Branch and Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong.




2015


50th Anniversary of Desengregation
50th Anniversary of Desegregation at USM

September 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of desegregation at USM. The University commemorated history by “Celebrating 50 Years of Progress: Desegregation of The University of Southern Mississippi.”




2018


Clyde Kennard Marker
Clyde Kennard Mississippi Freedom Trail marker

A new marker on the Mississippi Freedom Trail memorializes Clyde Kennard, the first African American student known to apply for admission to USM.

 

 

Racism and Rights Activism in Hattiesburg

Dr. William Sturkey wrote a book, "Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White," in which he explores the history of the civil rights movement in "The Hub City." 

Watch Dr. William Sturkey explain on PBS how the study of Hattiesburg, a small Southern town, can inform the national public discourse about race relations today.

 

Contact Us

Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Lucas Administration Building 
118 College Drive #5173
Hattiesburg, MS  39406

Campus Map

Email
diversity-webFREEMississippi

Phone
601.266.6134