Celebrating 60 years since first Black student enrolled at Ole Miss

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 6:25 PM CDT
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OXFORD, Miss. (WMC) - James Meredith was celebrated, honored, and revered Wednesday night for leading integration at the University of Mississippi 60 years ago.

Saturday will mark 60 years to the day 89-year-old Meredith registered for classes at Ole Miss.

Meredith served 10 years in the U.S Air Force before attending Jackson State for two years.

Then, on October 1, 1962, he registered for courses at Ole Miss.

“I decided that being scared, particularly of high affluent folks, didn’t make good sense,” Meredith said.

He was admitted, but after multiple failed attempts.

When he arrived on campus in 1962, an angry mob confronted U.S. marshals protecting Meredith, throwing bricks and bullets outside the university’s administration building.

Federal troops put an end to the violence, only after two bystanders were killed, 206 marshals and soldiers were injured, and 200 people were arrested.

During Wednesday night’s ceremony, Meredith spoke for 30 minutes at the campus’ Ford Center, in front of his wife, children, and grandchildren.

He spoke about uplifting the moral character of people today, the importance of black women, his Christian faith, and the building of a James Meredith museum in Jackson, with the goal of making public policy in the future.

“My dream is to build a think tank for Black people to provide leadership and guidance,” Meredith said.

It’s a goal he spoke a lot about — and if his determination is behind it, you know he won’t stop until it’s finished.

“My daddy always said in order to be successful, you have to know whatever you are competing with better than who you compete; and again, you have to work harder or be stronger. You have to do it better,” he said.

Saturday, Oct. 1 is considered “James Meredith Day” in the City of Oxford.

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