James Meredith reflects on and reveals his missions from God
by For the MBJ
Published: September 9,2012
In 1962, as a 29-year-old Air Force veteran, he confounded the white power structure and the watching world by breaking the color barrier at the University of Mississippi, his entry supported by U.S. Marshals and federalized troops.
“I deliberately put the United States government in a position where they had to fight the Mississippi government when I came here,” said the Attala County native. “I had already won.”
At a signing of his new book, “A Mission from God” (written with William Doyle), he confounded the roomful of admirers at Off Square Books by claiming Choctaw ancestry and a papal role model and by calling for the destruction of his statue — “an idol” — at Ole Miss.
Prompted by journalism professor Joe Atkins and members of the audience, Meredith reflected on his lonely role as Ole Miss’ first black student and suggested keys to a glorious future in Mississippi.
While not excusing those who oversee public education, he said he’d seen the educational potential that black churches could unleash on nearby children.
“We know what God means when he said, ‘Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,’” he said. “We know what the African proverb means, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’”
Meredith also urged older residents to assume their traditional roles of dispensing wisdom and correction instead of being afraid to offer help.
“We see a child out of order, and the question is, ‘What’s the mama going to do to me if I straighten the child out?” Meredith said. “The question should be, ‘What’s going to happen to this child if I don’t do my old-folks duty?’”
Nikkina Hankins of Olive Branch, a senior at Ole Miss, said it was important to her as an African-American to meet this pioneer.
“Hearing the history teaches you how not to repeat it and how to make the future not just for yourself but the people who are to come,” she said. “Education is the strongest key to changing our future, our economy, everything. We have to learn to be better.”
>>SEE MORE AT MBJ-TV See the first of a series of interviews Meredith taped with Mississippi Business Journal video journalist Stephen McDill.
To sign up for Mississippi Business Daily Updates, click here.
FOLLOW THE MBJ ON TWITTERMy Tweets
Twang & Tourism: The Country Music Trail
Top Posts & Pages
- Venture Tech merges with ISC, acquires SAT
- PSC's Brandon Presley calls in-state nuclear waste dump a 'harebrained scheme'
- Georgia-Pacific completes acquisition of SPG Holdings
- Corps official: River needs larger ports, locks and dams
- Community Bank names new officers
- Officials set hunting dates for birds; expands dove season by 20 days
- Retired judge to hear McDaniel's challenge of primary loss to Cochran
- C Spire, UM installing Wi-Fi network at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
- Southern Bancorp to acquire Bank of Bolivar County