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Wreath laid to honor civil rights pioneer Clyde Kennard

Published: Jul. 4, 2021 at 5:46 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Black Lives Matter Mississippi held a wreath-laying ceremony Sunday for an important figure in Hattiesburg history who died on this day in 1963.

Clyde Kennard is a former member of the military, serving in World War II and the Korean War.

Kennard attempted to become the first African-American to attend the University of Southern Mississippi in 1956, but he was denied admission because of his race.

People from around the Magnolia State gathered to witness the ceremony at the Mary Magdalene Church cemetery.

Kennard died at the age of 36.

“We are doing this today to honor a legacy in the Hattiesburg community. A legacy that started not just at USM, but before that and for people to really understand the significance of Clyde Kennard, what he did and what he went through, just to enroll at the University of Southern Mississippi,” said Jojo Virgil, president of Black Lives Matter Mississippi.

Virgil said they are hoping to hold the ceremony every Independence Day.

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