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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Refusing to do right

Clyde Kennard with his sister, Sara Tarpley, at
O'Hare Airport in Chicago after his 1963 release
from a Mississippi prison. He died that year.

Pardon Unlikely for Civil Rights Advocate

Published: May 4, 2006

Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi acknowledges that Clyde Kennard suffered a grievous wrong at the hands of state officials more than 45 years ago. But he says he will not grant a posthumous pardon to Mr. Kennard, a black man who was falsely imprisoned after trying to desegregate a Mississippi college.

Mr. Kennard moved home to Hattiesburg, Miss., after seven years in the Army in Germany and Korea and three years as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago. He wanted to finish his education at the local college.

But because that college, Mississippi Southern, was reserved for whites, state officials not only rejected Mr. Kennard's repeated applications but also plotted to kill him.

They kept him out of college by convicting him of helping to steal $25 of chicken feed based on what the sole witness now says was perjury. The 1960 conviction drew a seven-year prison term, and Mr. Kennard died of cancer in 1963.

Last month, Mr. Kennard's supporters asked Governor Barbour, a Republican, for a pardon. The state parole board must first make a recommendation, but Mr. Barbour has already said he will not consider granting one.

"The governor hasn't pardoned anyone, be it alive or deceased," said Mr. Barbour's spokesman, Pete Smith. "The governor isn't going to issue a pardon here."

Mr. Smith added that a pardon would be an empty gesture.

"The governor believes that Clyde Kennard was wronged, and if he were alive today his rights would be restored," Mr. Smith said. "There's nothing the governor can do for Clyde Kennard right now."

Mr. Kennard's case, which was the subject of a recent three-month investigation by The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., has also been pursued by students at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Ill., and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University's law school, in Chicago. Several of the students involved said they were baffled by Mr. Barbour's response.

"Please," said Mona Ghadiri, 17, a senior at Stevenson High, addressing Governor Barbour, "if you are going to say no, at least give us a decent reason."

He has one: some people in Mississippi think this would be wrong and since he's cheek and jowl with the neo-conservatives,why would he do a decent thing

posted by Steve @ 12:14:00 AM

12:14:00 AM

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