James Meredith

Learn about Civil Rights leader James Meredith, who in 1961 was denied admission to the University of Mississippi because he was black. He was later admitted, but was killed in 1966.
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1933
Author, Civil Rights Leader
Birthplace: Kosciusko, MS
Education: University of Mississippi

James Meredith was born in Kosciusko, MS, on June 25, 1933. He was a good student, and when he tried to transfer to the University of Mississippi, he was denied admission. Meredith filed a complaint with the district court in 1961, and a federal court ordered the university to desegregate and admit Meredith.

The public, including the governor of Mississippi tried to prevent Meredith from registering for classes. Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent federal marshals to protect him. A riot broke out on his first night on campus. Two bystanders were killed and 160 marshals were wounded. In the end, the university was integrated and Meredith graduated in 1964. Meredith published an account of his experience in a book entitled Three Years in Mississippi.

In 1966, Meredith began a solitary March Against Fear from Memphis to Jackson to protest racism. He was shot by a sniper and hospitalized. Other civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr. continued his march. Meredith's courageous acts showed the role that individual African Americans played in the struggle for civil rights.

Web Resources
The Mississippi Writer’s Page
http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/english/ms-writers/dir/meredith_james/

Black History Month Return to the Encyclopedia
of Prominent African Americans
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