The Magnolia Literacy Project
Hillman Frazier "God's Plan for My Life"
Updated: May 24, 2022
Hillman Frazier was a student at Jackson State College in May of 1970, when police officers opened fire on the campus. During protests against racial injustice, two individuals were killed, and several were injured. The devastation took such a toll on the campus that commencement was cancelled, and graduates received their diplomas in the mail. 51 years later, as a Mississippi State Senator, Frazier returned to his alma mater, now Jackson State University, for a special commencement. In "God's Plan for My Life", he writes about his experiences.
JEREMIAH 29: 11-12
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."
When I graduated from high school, I had dreams of becoming the next Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, or Chet Huntley. Today, it would be Lester Holt or Howard Ballou. I graduated from Jackson State College with a degree in Political Science. Instead of reporting the news, I took a different turn in life.
On May 14, 1970, I witnessed the terrible tragedy that occurred on Jackson State's campus. I left campus that evening to get a bite to eat with a friend but was denied entrance back on campus by a Jackson police officer. He told me that every ambulance had been dispatched to campus and that he couldn’t let me re-enter. After I pleaded with the officer for several minutes, he let me enter at “my own risk”. When I approached Alexander Hall, the women's dorm, law enforcement officials, who were marching in that direction, started shooting recklessly in both directions. When the smoke cleared, two innocent students, Phillip Gibbs and James Earl Green, had lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement officials.
Phillip Gibbs was my classmate, and James Earl Green was a Jim Hill High School student. I took several classes with Phillip and probably would have been in the line of fire if the officer had not detained me. The campus was cleared, and the Class of 1970 was not able to have a commencement ceremony.
Recently, Jackson State held ceremonies to honor the classes of 1970 and 1971, as they received their Golden Diplomas. I was privileged to be a part of the celebrations.
On May 15, 1970, I stood in front of Alexander Hall with some of my classmates in an attempt to preserve evidence from the crime scene. On May 15, 2021, I stood in front of Alexander Hall addressing the Jackson State Class of 1970, as a Mississippi State Senator.
This was a far cry from the dream that I had as a high school student.
God knew the plan he had for my life. In my role as State Senator, I can use this position to help Jackson State University prosper and to help other students accomplish their dreams. Congratulations to the Jackson State classes of 1970 and 1971.