University in Lafayette County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
University of Mississippi
—Mississippi Freedom Trail —
On October 1, 1962, James Meredith broke the rigid segregation in Mississippi's higher education when he became the first African American student at the University of Mississippi. Though federal courts had ordered his admission, Governor Ross Barnett and other state leaders stood in defiant opposition. The evening before Meredith enrolled, President John F. Kennedy deployed to the campus the U.S. Army and federalized National Guard to quell rioting segregationists. The following day agents of the U.S. Department of Justice escorted Meredith to the Lyceum Building, where he registered. He graduated in August of 1963.
Other African Americans blazed the trail for James Meredith. Medgar Evers applied to the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1954. The Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning declared that he had not complied with rules regarding letters of recommendation. Evers abandoned that pursuit and assumed his position as NAACP field secretary.
In 1958 Clennon King, a former teacher at Alcorn A & M College, applied to Ole Miss but upon his arrival to register was told his application lacked required materials. When he refused to leave, highway patrolmen forced him into a car and imprisoned him at Mississippi Highway Patrol headquarters in Jackson, under a warrant for lunacy. He was then committed to the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield. Twelve days later, King walked out, declared "not mentally ill.”
Kosciusko native James Meredith, a student at Jackson State, applied for admission to Ole Miss in early 1962. Although his act to desegregate Ole Miss was a personal one and not a movement priority, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund countered efforts by Mississippi officials to deny him admission, and on September 13 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals demanded his immediate enrollment. Governor Ross Barnett responded with racist rhetoric on television, pledging that "No school will be integrated in Mississippi while I am your governor.” His stance met with almost unanimous approval from
On Sunday, September 30, with Meredith under heavy guard in a dormitory, riots ensued, with crowds throwing bricks, bottles, and Molotov cocktails at a federal force assembled at the Lyceum Ole Miss professors Jim Silver and Evans Harrington and the Reverend Duncan Gray tried to calm students, while armed outsiders took over the campus. Army troops were ordered in from Memphis; by dawn, 23,000 soldiers had restored order, but two men lay dead—a French reporter and an Oxford bystander—and 160 marshals were injured, 28 by gunfire. The University suffered in the aftermath; morale was down, and at least 37 professors resigned in protest.
James Meredith enrolled successfully on October 1, attended classes under great pressures, and graduated
Erected 2012 by the Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division. (Marker Number 7.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Freedom Trail marker series.
Location. 34° 21.949′ N, 89° 32.194′ W. Marker is in University, Mississippi, in Lafayette County. Marker can be reached from Galtney-Lott Plaza west of University Circle. Touch for map. Located behind the Lyceum building, and in front of the J.D. Williams Library. The university campus is located within the city of Oxford. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1 Library Loop, University MS 38677, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Civil Rights Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); The Lyceum (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Old Chapel (about Lyceum — The Circle Historic District (about 800 feet away); To Our Confederate Dead (about 800 feet away); Ventress Hall (approx. 0.2 miles away); Barnard Observatory (approx. 0.2 miles away); Documenting the Blues (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in University.
Also see . . . Wikipedia article on James Meredith. (Submitted on April 10, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Categories. • African Americans • Civil Rights • Education •
Credits. This page was last revised on April 10, 2017. This page originally submitted on April 10, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 130 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on April 10, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.