USM Dedicates Armstrong-Branch Plaza - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

USM Dedicates Armstrong-Branch Plaza

Posted: Updated:

USM officials dedicated the Armstrong-Branch Plaza on the anniversary of a momentous occasion in the history of the university.

"God of love and God of mercy, we come to this historic moment with hearts that are both heavy and very happy," Former USM President Aubrey Lucas said during prayer. 

Southern Miss administrators, students, faculty, alumni and friends gathered between the Liberal Arts Building and Joseph Green Hall today to dedicate the newly-built plaza in honor of Gwendolyn Armstrong and Raylawni Branch.

"What they did in one sense was quite ordinary," USM President Rodney Bennet said.  "They went to college."

He said the thing that made this act extraordinary was that they were African Americans attending an all white college in 1965.

"September 6, 1965 these two brave women quietly and without incident ended segregation at USM," Bennett said.

Armstrong, a bright, talented recent graduate of Rowan High School in Hattiesburg, was determined to go to college in her hometown to be near her mother.  The NAACP offered to pay Branch's tuition if she would provide companionship to Armstrong.

The plaza was recently completed with help from a federal grant through the Mississippi Department of Transportation.  MDOT Commissioner Tom King said he enjoys helping the university since he, himself is a Golden Eagle.

President Bennett thanked the women for their bravery.

"From this day forward, this beautiful pedestrian plaza will mark your time here at Southern Miss," he said.  "And so, today, we dedicate this plaza as a place where students, faculty, alumni, staff and friends of the university will enjoy the beauty of freedom."

As the university was thanking them for their courage, they both expressed gratitude to the university.

"I am today and will be so eternally grateful for this honor," Armstrong said. 

Branch said she loved that they placed the plaza near the International Building because of the phrase etched on the front, "Above all nations is humanity."

"Everyone who knows me knows that I stand on - There's only one race of mankind, and that's the human race," Branch said.

She said she lives today with the same advice she's always lived by.

"I can never let fear paralyze me," Branch said. 

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • AMBER ALERT: Infant Dead, Toddler Missing, Parents Wanted in Mississippi

    AMBER ALERT: Infant Dead, Toddler Missing, Parents Wanted in Mississippi

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 5:30 PM EDT2014-04-23 21:30:14 GMT
    A 7 month old girl is dead, her 2 year old sister is missing, and their parents are wanted in Lowndes County.Authoritiestell WCBIin ColumbusDon Harris and Allison Studdard, and their daughter, Melea Harris fled a home on Honnell Mill Rd. early Wednesday morning after the infant, Alyssa Harris, was found not breathing. They may be in a 2002 Pontiac Aztec, brown or black in color. The car may haveaGeorgia license plates.Authorities say the girl's grandfather, Roger Studdard, reported the couple...
    A 7 month old girl is dead, her 2 year old sister is missing, and their parents are wanted in Lowndes County.Authoritiestell WCBIin ColumbusDon Harris and Allison Studdard, and their daughter, Melea Harris fled a home on Honnell Mill Rd. early Wednesday morning after the infant, Alyssa Harris, was found not breathing. They may be in a 2002 Pontiac Aztec, brown or black in color. The car may haveaGeorgia license plates.Authorities say the girl's grandfather, Roger Studdard, reported the couple...
  • Pawn Shop Burglary

    Pawn Shop Burglary

    Pawn Shop Burglary

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:38 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:38:16 GMT
    Money Man PawnMoney Man Pawn
    HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Owner's of a Hattiesburg pawn shop say someone broke into their store and stole guns. It happened at the money man pawn on Highway 98 in West Hattiesburg. Judy Mclain, the owner of Money Man Pawn, says she got a call about a break-in Friday night. "I got a phone call from our security system, saying that our alarm was going off," Judy Mclain, Owner of Money Man Pawnsaid. Hattiesburg Police arrived and found the front glass door broken out. The shop's owners say they belie...
    HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Owner's of a Hattiesburg pawn shop say someone broke into their store and stole guns. It happened at the money man pawn on Highway 98 in West Hattiesburg. Judy Mclain, the owner of Money Man Pawn, says she got a call about a break-in Friday night. "I got a phone call from our security system, saying that our alarm was going off," Judy Mclain, Owner of Money Man Pawnsaid. Hattiesburg Police arrived and found the front glass door broken out. The shop's owners say they belie...
  • Lamar County Officials To Survey Roads

    Lamar County Officials To Survey Roads

    Monday, April 21 2014 7:38 PM EDT2014-04-21 23:38:23 GMT
    Lamar County Bad RoadsLamar County Bad Roads
    HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Lamar county officials are getting ready to go out and survey roads of several subdivisions. They say the streets have been cracking and crumbling after a few years of use"We've probably got 183 to 185 subdivisions," Road Manager Tommy Jones, said.Many of these are new roads that have only been in use for a few years. He says they are suppose to last at least a decade, but they are deteriorating fast. "We,ve got problems from one end of the county to the other," he said....
    HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Lamar county officials are getting ready to go out and survey roads of several subdivisions. They say the streets have been cracking and crumbling after a few years of use"We've probably got 183 to 185 subdivisions," Road Manager Tommy Jones, said.Many of these are new roads that have only been in use for a few years. He says they are suppose to last at least a decade, but they are deteriorating fast. "We,ve got problems from one end of the county to the other," he said....
Powered by WorldNow

5912 Hwy. 49, Ste. A
Hattiesburg, MS 39401

Telephone: 601.545.2077
Fax: 601.545.3589
Email: newsroom@whlt.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.