James Meredith and the University of Mississippi

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James Meredith and the University of Mississippi
Meredith was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, on June 25th, 1933. From 1951 to 1960 he served in the
American Air Force. After this, Meredith studied at Jackson State College for two years. Following
this, he applied to start a course at the University of Mississippi. He was rejected twice. Meredith
filed a complaint with the courts that he had been rejected by the university simply because he was
black. His complaint was rejected by a district court, but on appeal, the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court
supported him and ruled against the district court stating that the University of Mississippi was
indeed maintaining a policy of segregation in its admissions policy.
The issue did not end there - if anything, the whole controversy was inflamed still further when state
officials and students at the university voiced their opposition to Meredith being given a place there.
Threats were made against Meredith and Robert Kennedy, the Attorney-General, sent federal
marshals to protect Meredith. Riots followed and 160 marshals were wounded (28 by gun shots) and
2 bystanders were killed on the Oxford campus.
Regardless of this, Meredith attended the university and graduated in 1964. However, being the
focal point of such racism seemed to ignite a passion in Meredith. In March 1966, he started his
'March Against Fear' from Memphis to Jackson to protest against racism - especially the violence
many African-Americans faced when attempting to register to vote. Shortly into his march, Meredith
was shot and was hospitalised. However, his place on the march was taken by such figures in the civil
rights movement as Martin Luther King and Stokely Carmichael who determined to finish the march
on Meredith's behalf.
Meredith re-joined the march on June 25th, 1966 after his hospital treatment. On the following day
they reached their target - Jackson in Mississippi.


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