50 years later Southern University honors the lives of historic murder victims

Southern University honored the lives of two students who were murdered on campus.
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 6:57 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Southern University honored the lives of two students who were murdered on campus during the peak of the civil rights movement.

Leonard Brown and Denver Smith were shot and killed during a peaceful protest on Southern’s campus in 1972.

Fifty years later, current students, faculty, and former students walk hand in hand for a pilgrimage, remembering the lives of Leonard Brown and Denver Smith.

“We’re learning it through history classes that we’re taking so to have somebody who is here during that time who can walk us through,” said Hermione Johnson, a current Southern University student.

Many young people were banned from the university for protesting after the killings.

The university recently lifted the ban, allowing them to return and tell their side of the story.

Rickey Hill was one of the student leaders who were banned from the university following the killings.

“We came here because we thought the possibilities of change were here,” said Rickey Hill, a former student.

Hill says the student leaders had big ideas, ready to change not the conditions at the school, but the entire community.

“Everybody has a telling about this, but again, there was no takeover of this building. We did not attempt at any moment to take Netterville hostage, “said Hill.

Due to what happened that day on November 16, 1972, Governor Edwards signed a Formal Apology for the killings of Smith and Brown and the nine students banned from entering campus.

Governor Edwards issued the following statement:

“Fifty years after the senseless tragedy of November 16, 1972, when officers wielding the power and authority of the state of Louisiana unjustly killed Leonard Brown and Denver Smith, it is time to try to make amends,” said Gov. Edwards.

“In those dark times, Louisiana failed to uphold its highest ideals. And in the aftermath of that senseless tragedy, the harm to our State and to the Southern University community was exacerbated by the punishment of those students who endeavored to stand up against the unjust treatment of the Black citizens of our State. It is only right and just for the state of Louisiana, to make amends to those who were victims of injustices perpetrated by the State.”

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