Meredith family marks Ole Miss riot anniversary

September 4, 2012

Education, Politics

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.

A U.S. Marshal helmet dented by Ole Miss rioters is on display at the Robert F. Kennedy exhibit in the Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Mass.

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.

September 30 marks the 50th anniversary of the integration of the University of Mississippi by African-American student James Meredith. Meredith is shown here being escorted across campus by U.S. Department of Justice officials.

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About Stephen McDill

Stephen McDill joined the Mississippi Business Journal in 2008 after working in radio and television. He is a graduate of Belhaven University and has won awards for his writing and photojournalism from the Associated Press and Mississippi Press Association.

View all posts by Stephen McDill

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