Pain, lessons remain decades after Southern shooting

Published: Nov. 14, 2022

By: Claire Sullivan, Brittany Dunn, Shelly Kleinpeter And Allison Allsop | LSU Manship School News Service

Last in a four-part series

Shunda Wallace was 3 months old when her father, Leonard Brown, and another student, Denver Smith, were shot dead by a sheriff’s deputy on Southern University’s campus in Baton Rouge in November 1972.

Fifty years later, Wallace still does not know who killed her father. The anger and the grief for a dad she never got to know burn in her, especially when her 18-year-old daughter, Raven, asks questions she cannot answer.

“I tell people, don’t ever say you don’t miss something that you didn’t have,” she said. “And I tell people all the time, something was taken from me at a very early age that was senseless.”

In the aftermath of the shooting lay a future marked with grief for family members of the victims and a period of uncertainty for protest leaders, who were expelled from SouthernBut the protests also helped produce some of the changes that the students wanted to see. And the shooting brought to the fore questions about excessive police force that still haunt Baton Rouge and the nation today.

The shooting came after several weeks of protests and class boycotts over what the students saw as poor funding, dilapidated buildings and little response to their concerns.

Read more at Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting

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