Civil Rights Leaders
Visit Our Photo Gallery
Rate Our Site!
Visit our Sponsor!
Take our Survey!
James H. Meredith, after attending Jackson State College, decided to get a better education by going to an all-white, school known as Ole Miss, University Mississippi. When Meredith was rejected on the grounds that Jackson State was not member of the Southern Association of Secondary Schools and that he did not have the required recommendation from the Universities' alumni.
He decided to file a lawsuit on May 31, 1961 against the University in the U.S. District Court of Southern Mississippi for denying him enrollment because of his color. Judge Sidney C. Mize, who was the Federal District, decided to reject the filed lawsuit on the basis that there was no evidence.
In the fall of 1962, white Mississippi faced a much greater challenge when on September the third; a federal district court ordered the University of Mississippi to admit James H. Meredith in the school. On September 20, 1962, Ross Barnett, the governor of Mississippi during this time, was made a registrar by the state board of trustee giving, "the full power, authority, right, and discretion of this Board to act upon all matters pertaining to or concerned with," Meredith registration, admission and attendance.
James Meredith got the help of the Mississippi's NAACP organization to put him in contact with Thurgood Marshall, so he and the NAACP filed Meredith's request in federal court. Meredith had nine years of military service as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and twelve-college course credits. The Governor was furiated and went on statewide television to condemn the federal court and tell the citizens of Mississippi to join along and rally against the federal court's decision. The governor also said, " I hereby direct each official to uphold segregation laws enacted by the state of Mississippi, regardless of the federal courts."
The next day, when Mississippi heard that Meredith was on campus, even though President Kennedy said yesterday morning," all persons engaged in the obstruction of justice to cease and to disperse and retire peacefully," more than a thousand student began to violently shout "Two-four-one-three, we hate Kennedy, Kill the nigger-loving bastards." When the mob increased in violent activities, such as throwing bottles and rocks, the state troopers fled the area leaving the outnumbered federal marshals by themselves. When the marshals tried to hold off the mob with tear gas, they were attacked brutally with half of the 320 m injured, eighty-two wounded by gun shots and two people killed. This act of violence did not cease until the federal troops arrived and used tear gas.
The troops and marshals made sure that Meredith was able to register and have a safe year. Even though he was protected on the outside of the school, inside he suffered so much hatred and discrimination, but there were a few that were nice to him. He graduated successfully on August 18, 1963, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.