Ole Miss honors James Meredith 60 years after integration

Sep 30, 2022, 4:28 PM | Updated: Oct 1, 2022, 11:35 am
James Meredith, who in 1962 became the first Black student to enroll at the University of Mississip...

James Meredith, who in 1962 became the first Black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, is honored during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Mississippi and Kentucky in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. The university is holding several events this academic year to mark 60 years of integration and to honor Meredith's legacy. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

(AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

              James Meredith, who in 1962 became the first Black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, is honored during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Mississippi and Kentucky in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. The university is holding several events this academic year to mark 60 years of integration and to honor Meredith's legacy. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
            
              James Meredith, who in 1962 became the first Black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, is honored during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Mississippi and Kentucky in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. The university is holding several events this academic year to mark 60 years of integration and to honor Meredith's legacy. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
            
              James Meredith, who in 1962 became the first Black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, shakes hands with Ole Miss Chancellor Glenn Boyce while being honored during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Mississippi and Kentucky in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. The university is holding several events this academic year to mark 60 years of integration and to honor Meredith's legacy. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
            
              James Meredith, who in 1962 became the first Black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, is honored during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Mississippi and Kentucky in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. The university is holding several events this academic year to mark 60 years of integration and to honor Meredith's legacy. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
            
              James Meredith, who in 1962 became the first Black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, is honored during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Mississippi and Kentucky in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. The university is holding several events this academic year to mark 60 years of integration and to honor Meredith's legacy. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
            
              James Meredith, who in 1962 became the first Black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, is honored during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Mississippi and Kentucky in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. The university is holding several events this academic year to mark 60 years of integration and to honor Meredith's legacy. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
            
              James Meredith, who in 1962 became the first Black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, shakes hands with Ole Miss Chancellor Glenn Boyce while being honored during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Mississippi and Kentucky in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. The university is holding several events this academic year to mark 60 years of integration and to honor Meredith's legacy. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
            
              James Meredith, who in 1962 became the first Black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, is honored during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Mississippi and Kentucky in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. The university is holding several events this academic year to mark 60 years of integration and to honor Meredith's legacy. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)
            
              In this photo provided by the University of Mississippi, James Meredith speaks at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2022, during an event celebrating 60 years of integration. In 1962, Meredith became the first Black student to enroll in the university, and federal marshals escorted him onto the campus as white protesters erupted in violence. (Thomas Graning/University of Mississippi via AP)
            
              In this photo provided by the University of Mississippi, James Meredith, left, speaks to U.S. Marshals Service Director Ronald L. Davis, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2022, at the University of Mississippi during an event celebrating 60 years of integration. At the event, Davis named Meredith an honorary deputy marshal. In 1962, Meredith became the first Black student to enroll in the university, and federal marshals escorted him onto the campus in Oxford, Miss., as white protesters erupted in violence. (Thomas Graning/University of Mississippi via AP)
            
              FILE - James Meredith, whose 1962 enrollment as the first Black student at the University of Mississippi sparked bloody riots, is seen after receiving his bachelor's degree during a  graduation ceremony in Oxford, Miss., Aug. 18, 1963. (AP Photo/Jim Bourdier, File)
            
              In this photo provided by the University of Mississippi, James Meredith speaks at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2022, during an event celebrating 60 years of integration. In 1962, Meredith became the first Black student to enroll in the university, and federal marshals escorted him onto the campus as white protesters erupted in violence. (Thomas Graning/University of Mississippi via AP)
            
              FILE - James Meredith, center right, is escorted by federal marshals as he appears for his first day of class at the University of Mississippi, in Oxford, Miss., Oct. 1, 1962. Meredith sued to gain admission as the first Black student at the state’s flagship university. Facing resistance from the governor and riots that led to two deaths, Meredith enrolled at Ole Miss under federal court order and protected by U.S. marshals. (AP Photo/File)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The University of Mississippi is paying tribute to 89-year-old James Meredith 60 years after white protesters erupted into violence as he became the first Black student to enroll in what was then a bastion of Deep South segregation.

As it has done on other 10-year anniversaries of integration, the university is hosting celebrations and academic events. Meredith was honored Saturday during the Ole Miss-Kentucky football game, receiving a framed Ole Miss jersey with the number 62 — the year he integrated the university. The ceremony happened two days after he attended attended the Rebels’ practice to speak to players.

“He came and revolutionized our thinking. He came to open our closed society,” Donald Cole, who retired in 2018 as the university’s assistant provost and head of multicultural affairs, said during a celebration Wednesday night.

The enigmatic Meredith, who lives in Jackson, has long resisted the label of civil rights leader, as if civil rights are separate from other human rights. He says his effort to enter Ole Miss was his own battle to conquer white supremacy.

Meredith’s being honored at the Ole Miss-Kentucky game was an ironic echo of history.

Two days before Meredith enrolled on the Oxford campus in 1962, race-baiting Gov. Ross Barnett worked a white crowd into a frenzy at a football stadium in Jackson. Ole Miss fans waved Confederate flags to support their Rebels over the Kentucky Wildcats — and to defy any move toward racial integration.

“I love Mississippi,” Barnett declared. “I love her people! Our customs! I love and I respect our heritage!”

The next evening, Barnett quietly reached an agreement with U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy to let Meredith enter Mississippi’s oldest public university. Meredith already had a federal court order.

White mobs of students and outsiders erupted when he arrived on the leafy campus with the protection of more than 500 federal law enforcement officers. The attorney general’s brother, President John F. Kennedy, deployed National Guard troops to quell the violence, and Meredith enrolled on Oct. 1.

During the event Wednesday at the university, Meredith told an audience: “In my opinion, this is the best day I ever lived. But there’s some more truth. Celebration is good. I don’t think there’s anybody in this house or in the state of Mississippi that think the problem has been solved.”

Meredith has said for the past several years that he’s on a mission from God, to persuade people to abide by the Ten Commandments. He said Wednesday that he sees a special role for Black women to lead the way in restoring moral order to American society.

“There’s nothing in Mississippi that God, Jesus Christ and the Black woman cannot fix,” Meredith said.

Meredith grew up in segregated Mississippi before finishing high school in Florida. He served in the Air Force and attended Jackson State College, a historically Black school in the state capital, before suing to gain admission to Ole Miss.

A local resident and a French journalist were killed in the violence as Meredith enrolled. More than 200 officers and soldiers were wounded and 200 people were arrested.

Federal marshals provided Meredith with round-the-clock protection until he graduated with a political science degree in 1963. Meredith said Wednesday that most of his knowledge about what was happening on campus came from the marshals.

“Most of them were scared to death of the Mississippi people with rifles and shotguns,” he said.

U.S. Marshals Service Director Ronald L. Davis named Meredith an honorary deputy marshal during the ceremony Wednesday. Davis, who is Black, said Meredith brought widespread change to American society.

“You chose a path that was not traveled — one with much resistance, one with fear and threats and violence, and you went there anyway,” Davis said.

The University of Mississippi had about 21,850 students on all of its campuses in the 2021 fall semester, with about 12.7% Black enrollment. About 38% of Mississippi residents are Black.

Ethel Scurlock, the first Black dean of the university’s honors college, said during the keynote speech Wednesday that she had not yet been born when Meredith integrated Ole Miss in 1962 or when he was shot soon after setting out on his March Against Fear in 1966.

“But Mr. Meredith, I am here today,” Scurlock said. “I am the unborn baby that you were willing to go to war for.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Nancy Faeser, Federal Minister of the Interior and Home Affairs talks to members of the press in Em...
Associated Press

German government seeks to ease rules for naturalization

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s socially liberal government is moving ahead with plans to ease the rules for obtaining citizenship in the European Union’s most populous country, a drive that is being assailed by the conservative opposition. Chancellor OIaf Scholz said in a video message Saturday that Germany has long since become “the country of hope” […]
1 day ago
Lilia Kristenko, 38, cries as city responders collect the dead body of her mother Natalia Kristenko...
Associated Press

Ukraine works to restore water, power after Russian strikes

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian authorities endeavored Saturday to restore electricity and water services after recent pummeling by Russian military strikes that vastly damaged infrastructure, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying millions have seen their power restored since blackouts swept the war-battered country days earlier. Skirmishes continued in the east and residents from the southern city […]
1 day ago
FILE - Palestinian soccer fans wave Qatari and Palestinian flags as they watch a live broadcast of ...
Associated Press

Flashes of Arab unity at World Cup after years of discontent

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — For a brief moment after Saudi Arabia’s Salem Aldawsari fired a ball from just inside the penalty box into the back of the net to seal a World Cup win against Argentina, Arabs across the divided Middle East found something to celebrate. Such Arab unity is hard to come by and […]
1 day ago
FILE - MGM Grand Macau casino resort is closed in Macao on July 11, 2022. Macao has tentatively ren...
Associated Press

Macao awards casino licenses to MGM, Sands, Wynn, 3 others

BEIJING (AP) — Macao has tentatively renewed the casino licenses of MGM Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and three Chinese rivals after they promised to help diversify its economy by investing in non-gambling attractions, the government said Saturday. The announcement is positive news for owners who have invested billions of dollars to build the […]
1 day ago
FILE - Local authorities inaugurate the Christmas lighting in the streets of Vigo, Spain, Nov. 19, ...
Associated Press

Sober or bright? Europe faces holidays during energy crunch

VERONA, Italy (AP) — Early season merrymakers sipping mulled wine and shopping for holiday decorations packed the Verona Christmas market for its inaugural weekend. But beyond the wooden market stalls, the Italian city still has not decked out its granite-clad pedestrian streets with twinkling holiday lights as officials debate how bright to make the season […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Today in History: November 26, the NHL is founded

Today in History Today is Saturday, Nov. 26, the 330th day of 2022. There are 35 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Nov. 26, 1950, China entered the Korean War, launching a counteroffensive against soldiers from the United Nations, the U.S. and South Korea. On this date: In 1825, the first […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
Ole Miss honors James Meredith 60 years after integration