Background Information and Event
James Meredith was the first African American to be accepted into the University of Mississippi in 1961. Born in 1933 in Kosciusko, Mississippi he was well educated and enlisted into the Air Force right out of high school. From there he attended the Jackson State College for two years but was denied twice when he tried to apply to the University of Mississippi. He filed a complaint arguing that he had been rejected from the University solely because of the color of his skin. It was decided by the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court that this was indeed the case and that Mississippi was maintaining a policy of racial segregation. Meredith was accepted on October 1,1962 and through this, achieved a goal of integrating all schools and universities. It is because of this that this event has been called "a flash point in America's civil rights movement."
James Meredith
James Meredith
external image University-of-Mississippi-Print-C10084888.jpg

Costs and Results
His acceptance caused a lot of anger in Mississippi and as a result, many riots broke out on the University campus. The riots were so bad that President John F. Kennedy sent the US Marshalls and the federal troops. During the riots, 28 soldiers and 42 US Marshals suffered gunshot wounds. The first two semesters of his college years were also not easy for Meredith. Although most of the white students accepted his presence, he was badly harrassed. Students in the dorm floor above him would often bounce balls on the floor at all hours of the night and students would ofter turn their backs on him in the halls and cafetaria. As a result of attending the university, he went on to receive a law degree from Columbia University and became a stockbroker.
Meredith graduating
Meredith graduating

Later Life and the Civil Rights Movement
After years of not being involved in the civil rights movement, Meredith once again became involved through leading a march called the March Against Fear from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Misissippi. During this march, he was shot by a sniper but would survive. In addition to leading marches, he also wrote a book about his experience at the University of Mississippi called Three Years in Mississippi, as well as several others. He was also an active Repulican and served on Senator Jesse Helm's staff, in addition to making several unsuccessful runs for Congress. He does not consider himself a civil rights activist, but rather someone who "demanded and got those rights properly extended to every American." He is still alive and currently lives in Jackson, Mississippi with his wife and three children.



Paige Ott