ASK THE ADVOCATE: Shootings on Southern campus in the ’70s

Where can I find information about the shootings of Brown and Smith, two students killed at Southern University during the civil- rights era?

Two Southern University students, Denver A. Smith and Leonard Douglas Brown, were shot and killed with shotgun pellets during a round of protests and class boycotts at the university on Nov. 16, 1972.

Smith, 20, of New Roads, and Brown, 20, of Gilbert, were part of a civil-rights demonstration that day that involved a group of students who presented a list of grievances and demands to the university’s administration.

The students wanted better housing conditions, improved classrooms, a share of financial resources closer in line to LSU’s and a stronger voice in state policymaking decisions for Southern.

Former Southern University student Frederick J. Prejean, who was arrested that day for his role in the protest, said law enforcement officials threw tear gas containers at the students and students threw them back.

Soon after, students started running away from the law enforcement officials, and Brown and Smith were shot and killed.

No one was ever charged in the deaths of Smith and Brown.

Edward Pratt, assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University, was on campus the day of the protest and deaths.

Pratt, also a former editor for The Advocate, wrote in 2001 that most people at the school that day believe local law enforcement officers shot and killed Smith and Brown.

Years later, school officials named the university’s Student Union in honor of Smith and Brown.

How is a balance left in my 401(k) treated after I die? Are my heirs entitled to it? What are the tax liabilities regarding income tax and estate tax?

William C. Potter, of Postlethwaite & Netterville, provides this answer: Technically the account does not go to the ‘heirs,’ but to the beneficiaries designated by the 401(k) owner. These might, in fact, be the same people, but heirs receive property by way of the will or state law if there is no will. Like life insurance, the beneficiary designation determines who gets the retirement funds. The beneficiary effectively steps into the shoes of the owner for income tax purposes. Thus, as the beneficiary receives funds from the 401(k), he will get a Form 1099-R detailing how much taxable income he will have to report on an annual basis.