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I'm young, black, single and fabulous!!! Trying to live my life to the fullest before its all said and done with . I'm just trying to figure it all out!

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

James Meredith




James Meredith
is an American civil rights movement figure. He was the first African American student at the University of Mississippi, an event that was a flash point in the American civil rights movement. Motivated by the broadcast of President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address (which did not mention civil rights per se) Meredith decided to apply his democratic rights and then made the ultimate decision to apply to the University of Mississippi. Meredith's goal was to put pressure on Kennedy administration.


Born in Kosciusko, Mississippi of Native American (Choctaw and Black American heritage. He enlisted in the United States Air Force immediately afterhigh school and served from 1951 to 1960. He then attended Jackson State College for two years. He then applied to the University of Mississippi, saying that he wanted to make this move in the interest of his country, race, family, and himself. Meredith stated, "Nobody handpicked me...I believed, and believe now, that I have a Divine Responsibility... I am familiar with the probable difficulties involved in such a move as I am undertaking and I am fully prepared to pursue it all the way to a degree from the University of Mississippi." However, even after all the trouble he went through he was denied twice. On May 31, 1961, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a suit in the U.S. District Court alleging that the color of his skin was the only reason for Meredith not being accepted into the university. The case went through many hearings and finally to the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled that he had the right to be admitted. Though Meredith was now allowed to register to the school, the Governor of Mississippi, Ross Barnett, attempted to block his entrance, passing a law that “prohibited any person who was convicted of a state crime from admission to a state school.” This law was directed at Meredith, who had been convicted of “false voter registration.”


A deal was finally made between the Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Governor Barnett and Meredith was allowed to attend Ole Miss. On October 1, 1962, he became the first black student at the University of Mississippi, after being barred from entering on September 20. His enrollment, firmly opposed by segregationist Governor Ross Barnett, sparked riots on the Oxford campus, and required enforcement by U.S. Marshals, and later by (federal) U.S. Army military police, Mississippi National Guard and U.S. Border Patrol. The riots led to a violent clash which left two people dead, including French journalist Paul Guihard, on assignment for the London Daily Sketch, who was found behind the Lyceum building with a gunshot wound to the back. 48 soldiers were injured and 28 U.S. Marshals were wounded by gunfire. Barnett was fined $10,000 and sentenced to jail for contempt, but the charges were later dismissed by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Bob Dylan sang about the incident in his song "Oxford Town". Meredith's actions are regarded as a pivotal moment in the history of civil rights in the United States. He graduated on August 18, 1963 with a degree in political science

Many students harassed Meredith during his two semesters on campus. Though the majority of students accepted Meredith's presence, according to first person accounts chronicled in Nadine Cohodas's book The Band Played Dixie, students living in Meredith's dorm bounced basketballs on the floor just above his room through all hours of the night. When Meredith walked into the cafeteria for meals, the students eating would all turn their backs. If Meredith sat at a table with other students, all of whom were white, the students would immediately get up and go to another table.




1 comment:

JStar said...

We have come so far, but yet not far enough. Hatred is being bred still! His efforts and successul are so honorable! Thanks for posting about people who are already over publicised

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