Monday, October 1, 2012

TODAY in history: Integration of the University of Mississippi- Oct 1, 1962

James Meredith in 1962

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the integration of the University of Mississippi
On October 1st, 1962, James H. Meredith finally registered and attended his first classes after a 20-month struggle to enter the University of Mississippi ~ Ole Miss.
The University of Mississippi commemorates the 50th anniversary of its integration this fall.

James Meredith was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, on June 25th, 1933. From 1951 to 1960 he served in the American Air Force. After this, Meredith studied at Jackson State College for two years. He later applied to take a course at the University of Mississippi. He was rejected twice. Meredith filed a complaint with the courts that he had been rejected by the university because he was black. His complaint was rejected by a district court, but on appeal, the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court supported him and ruled against the district court stating that the University of Mississippi was indeed maintaining a policy of segregation in its admissions policy.  State officials and students at the university voiced their opposition to Meredith attending the university. Numerous threats were made against Meredith. Robert Kennedy, the Attorney-General, sent federal marshals to protect Meredith. Riots followed and 160 marshals were wounded and 2 bystanders were killed on the Oxford campus.
On Sunday night, hundreds of white students and protesters from around the region flocked to campus and moved toward the Lyceum, the stately columned building where Meredith would register.
"Marshalls surrounded the Lyceum. They begin to use tear gas. People begin to throw rocks and bottles," Kennedy activated the Mississippi National Guard and called in Army troops from Memphis, Tenn. By dawn Oct. 1, the riot was quelled and marshals escorted Meredith to his first class, American history.

Meredith attended the university and graduated in 1963.

University of Mississippi

The Civil Rights Monument & James Meredith statue

(4 words engraved above pillars)

James Meredith - Statue Dedication - October 1, 2006

On October 1, 2006, James Meredith came face to face with a powerful image of his
contributions to opening the doors of higher education to all people.

The University of Mississippi's civil rights monument features a life-size bronze likeness
of Meredith, the first black student admitted to the university. Surrounding the statue
are a 17-foot-tall limestone portal, brick benches and historical markers.
Members of the university family and guests gathered that day  to dedicate the monument,
which also honors others who pioneered civil rights in the South and across the nation.