Barry Bradford on Clyde Kennard

Subject: Civil Rights Movement, Education
Themes: Education Civil Rights 21st Century 20th Century
Age groups: High School
Resource type: Websites

Barry Bradford, the former National Teacher of the Year who engaged his students in the work to exonerate Clyde Kennard, has written how they did it.

On his blog, Bradford offers another view of Kennard, in a piece called "Clyde Kennard: Killed for Seeking the American Dream". Writes Bradford, "His real crime was being African American and trying to go to college." READ THE POST HERE.

The AWTT biography of Kennard could not cover all the legal twists and turns along the road to the civil rights activist's exoneration. Bradford describes them in dramatic detail here. The chapter, entitled "Judge Pickering" offers a more complicated portrait of the former federal judge, Charles W. Pickering, who was an unlikely ally in the Kennard case.

Writes Bradford:

In football they call it "throwing a Hail Mary." That is a desperation play; one used when the losing team seemingly has almost no chance at winning and the clock is quickly running out.

I needed a Hail Mary. Big time.

The Mississippi Parole Board had stated they would not recommend a pardon for Clyde Kennard, because they believed that we still had other avenues available to clear his name. The only problem was that we did not know what they were and the Board would not tell us. The situation was unprecedented and proving to be a political minefield for Gov. Barbour. Every major media outlet in Mississippi hammered his obstinate refusal to formally clear Kennard. His office was frustrated with the attacks, upset with ongoing deluge of e-mail and letters our website had generated, and none too pleased when a reporter quoted me as saying that he had now become "The first Governor in the entire history of the United States Of America ever to refuse to pardon a man he had publicly declared to be innocent."

We were desperate in our efforts to find the mysterious path hidden in the thickets of Mississippi politics, law and history. Steve Drizin and his students combed endlessly through books of legal precedent, hoping to find a yet untried appeal. Jerry did another round of interviews with experts, trying to decipher the Board's cryptic message. His experts were stumped as well. We all talked and e-mailed back and forth, hoping there was something obvious we were missing. If there was, we couldn't find it. READ THE ENTIRE CHAPTER HERE.