allowed the state legislature, by a two-thirds vote, to abolish all public schools in the state, or local boards could disband schools and rent the property to private entities. Enacted as a last-ditch measure, the legislation and subsequent adoption by the state’s voters by a 2–1 margin signaled white Mississippians would not acquiesce on integration. In 1955, the Mississippi legislature finally authorized funds for the equalization plan, a more conservative and practical approach to school integration. Over the next decade, Mississippi continued to resist compliance with Brown v. Board of Education by seeking alternative measures to ensure segregation and by delaying implementation of integration in public schools. A challenge to school segregation was quickly forthcoming, not from a public primary or secondary school, but at a public four-year college, Mississippi Southern College. In 1955, Clyde Kennard, an African American United States Army veteran, applied for admission to Mississippi Southern College. Kennard, who lived in Eatonville, had previously attended the University of Chicago. Since Mississippi Southern was the closest university to his home, he hoped to gain admission to the all-white school. The college first denied Kennard admission based on his inability to provide five references from school alumni. Over the next five years, Kennard continued to pursue admission to the college. College President William McCain and Governor James P. Coleman talked Kennard out of applying in January 1959, but Kennard again applied in the fall of that year. In the fall of 1959, McCain denied Kennard admission on the grounds that he included no University of Chicago transcript, despite his knowledge that Kennard had sufficient grades to warrant admission. In the fall of 1960, local police arrested Kennard for accessory to burglary for five bags of stolen chicken feed valued at $25 taken from the Forrest County Cooperative. Based on the testimony of a part-time employee of the co- op who admitted stealing the feed but insisted Kennard planned the crime, an all-white jury convicted Kennard of theft and sentenced him to seven years in the state prison. Kennard served three years before being paroled because of intestinal cancer. He died only a few months after his release from prison. Nearly forty years after his conviction, the employee whose testimony implicated Kennard admitted that the case was a sham, designed to keep Kennard from enrolling at Mississippi Southern. The Kennard case revealed the implications of challenging segregation in Mississippi: African Americans who challenged segregation were subject to a wide variety of reprisals both legitimate and illegitimate. While Kennard did not live to see university integration, the arrival of two female African American students, Raylawni Branch and VENTURE OIL & GAS Since its beginning in 1988, Venture Oil & Gas has grown to become the second largest oil producer in Mississippi. Targeting primarily the Southeastern Gulf Coast states, Venture engages in the exploration and development of oil and natural gas properties in the United States. In 2012, the independent energy company averaged a daily production rate of 8,000 bopd and 13,000 mcfd. PHOTOS COURTESY OF VENTURE OIL & GAS INC. THE PINEY WOODS 187