Plaza named for first African-American students to attend USM - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Plaza named for first African-American students to attend USM

Raylawni Branch (left) and Gwendolyn Armstrong Chamberlain (far right) unveil a plaque Friday honoring them for helping to desegregate USM in 1965. Raylawni Branch (left) and Gwendolyn Armstrong Chamberlain (far right) unveil a plaque Friday honoring them for helping to desegregate USM in 1965.
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

A new plaza at Southern Miss has been named in honor of the the first two African-American students to attend that university.

The Armstrong-Branch Plaza recognizes the efforts of Gwendolyn Armstrong Chamberlain and Raylawni G.A. Branch to desegregate USM. Both enrolled at the university on Sept. 6, 1965.

Friday morning, a plaque bearing their names was unveiled and a ribbon was cut officially opening the Plaza.

"I am so overwhelmed," said Gwendolyn Armstrong Chamberlain. "I can't begin to express how grateful I am to be a Golden Eagle and recognized for the long way that we have come in education and especially here at USM," she said.

"I don't know what to say, it's just a wonderful thing," said Raylawni Branch. "You don't think of your name before you die, being on anything," she said.  

 

The Mississippi Dept. of Transportation provided funds to build both the plaza and a new fence which runs along the south end of the campus.

The plaza is located between Joseph Greene Hall and the Liberal Arts Building.

 

 Copyright 2013 WDAM. All rights reserved.

 

 

  • Local NewsLOCALMore>>

  • Council approves pay increase for HPD dispatchers

    Council approves pay increase for HPD dispatchers

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 12:00 AM EDT2018-07-18 04:00:59 GMT
    The Hattiesburg City Council voted to give dispatchers in Hattiesburg Police Department a pay increase. WDAM looked at the numbers and where the money is coming from. (Photo source: WDAM)The Hattiesburg City Council voted to give dispatchers in Hattiesburg Police Department a pay increase. WDAM looked at the numbers and where the money is coming from. (Photo source: WDAM)

    WDAM cameras inside council chambers Tuesday night as the Hattiesburg City Council cast their votes. The council voted yes, to giving dispatchers within the Hattiesburg Police Department a pay increase. WDAM looked at the numbers and where the money is coming from. Councilman Carter Carroll said, "Dispatcher is a very important position and it needs to be someone with experience." Right now, the Hattiesburg Police Department has an extremely high turnover rate in that spe...

    More >>

    WDAM cameras inside council chambers Tuesday night as the Hattiesburg City Council cast their votes. The council voted yes, to giving dispatchers within the Hattiesburg Police Department a pay increase. WDAM looked at the numbers and where the money is coming from. Councilman Carter Carroll said, "Dispatcher is a very important position and it needs to be someone with experience." Right now, the Hattiesburg Police Department has an extremely high turnover rate in that spe...

    More >>
  • Players of the Pine Belt - Lumberton senior C.K. Bowens

    Players of the Pine Belt - Lumberton senior C.K. Bowens

  • Players of the Pine Belt - Lumberton senior C.K. Bowens

    Players of the Pine Belt - Lumberton senior C.K. Bowens

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 11:43 PM EDT2018-07-18 03:43:33 GMT
    Lumberton senior C.K. Owens. Courtesy: WDAMLumberton senior C.K. Owens. Courtesy: WDAM
    Lumberton senior C.K. Owens. Courtesy: WDAMLumberton senior C.K. Owens. Courtesy: WDAM

    Currently, Lumberton High School senior safety C.K. Bowens acts as a de facto coach-on-the-field for Coach Zach Jones’ defense. And if Jones’ has his way, Bowens will become a coach on his staff some day in the future. “Somebody’s fired,” Jones said only half-kidding. “He has a job because I would hire him in a minute. He just has a way of getting his point across and people listen. He’s just a natural leader.”

    More >>

    Currently, Lumberton High School senior safety C.K. Bowens acts as a de facto coach-on-the-field for Coach Zach Jones’ defense. And if Jones’ has his way, Bowens will become a coach on his staff some day in the future. “Somebody’s fired,” Jones said only half-kidding. “He has a job because I would hire him in a minute. He just has a way of getting his point across and people listen. He’s just a natural leader.”

    More >>
Powered by Frankly