James Meredith

James Meredith

James Meredith gained fame in 1962 by becoming the first black man to be integrated at the University of Mississippi. In 1966 he made history again when he was shot by a sniper shortly after embarking on a civil rights walk through the South.

Meredith was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, on 25 June 1933. After attending local segregated schools and graduating from high school, Meredith enlisted in the United States Air Force.

Meredith applied and was accepted to the University of Mississippi in 1962, but his admission was revoked when the registrar learned of his race. A federal court ordered “Ole Miss” to admit him, but when he tried to register on September 20, 1962, he found the entrance to the office blocked by Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett. However, the court threatened the governor with legal action and two days later, Meredith was escorted onto the Ole Miss campus by U.S. Marshals, leading to riots that resulted in the deaths of two students.

After graduating, Meredith began his 'March Against Fear' in March 1966. He planned to walk from Memphis to Jackson, where he would symbolically register to vote in an attempt to raise awareness of black voter registration in the South. Shortly into his march, Meredith was shot and was hospitalised. Other civil rights leaders, including However, Martin Luther King and Stokely Carmichael continued the march on his behalf. Meredith rejoined the march on 25 June 1966 after his hospital treatment. The following day they reached Jackson in Mississippi.

Meredith graduated with a degree in political science in 1963. He went on to receive a master's degree in economics from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, and a law degree from Columbia University in 1968.

In the 1960s, Meredith became active in the Republican Party. From 1989 to 1991, Meredith served as a domestic adviser to southern conservative U.S. Senator Jesse Helms. He came to denounce his role in the Civil Rights Movement and strongly opposed the idea of affirmative action.

See also: Birmingham 1963

MLA Citation/Reference

"James Meredith". HistoryLearning.com. 2023. Web.

Key facts

Name: James Meredith
Birth Date: 25 June 1933, Kosciusko, Mississippi
Known for: being the first black student at the University of Mississippi; shot during ‘March against Fear’