Jackson State University professor Judy Meredith reminded her Facebook friends Tuesday morning that September 30 marks the 50th anniversary of the University of Mississippi riots and the subsequent acceptance of the school’s first African-American student.
Meredith’s husband, James Meredith was that student.
James Meredith integrated the all-white university in 1962 after facing an onslaught of legal challenges from pro-segregation forces including a bellicose Gov. Ross Barnett. National Guard units were ordered to Oxford to enforce the integration by bayonet and tear gas after students rioted.
Iconic photos and news footage of Meredith being escorted to class that semester by U.S. Marshals forever linked him to the civil rights movement and today bear witness to his personal courage and tenacity.
A video commemorating the event and Meredith’s legacy has already been released by Ole Miss.
The successful federal enforcement of Meredith’s enrollment was a special source of pride for then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. A display to the event is housed in the RFK exhibit at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Mass.
September 30 also marks the 50th anniversary of the killing of French reporter Paul Guihard. Guihard was covering the riots in Oxford when he was found shot to death near the Lyceum on the Ole Miss campus. His murder remains unsolved. One other person also died during the riots.