Ole Miss Integration


On September 30, 1962, riots erupted on the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford where locals, students, and committed segregationists had gathered to protest the enrollment of James Meredith, a black Air Force veteran attempting to integrate the all-white school. Despite the presence of more than 120 federal marshals who were on hand to protect Meredith from harm, the crowd turned violent after nightfall, and authorities struggled to maintain order. When the smoke cleared the following morning, two civilians were dead and scores more were reported injured. For Meredith, the riot was perhaps a fitting coda to a process that began almost two years earlier when he brought suit against the school, alleging that he was denied admission on the basis of race. Although a lower court sided with the university, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued a decision in June 1962 ordering the school to admit Meredith the following fall, thereby ensuring a showdown between the federal government and Mississippi's segregationist state government. After spending the night of September 30 under federal protection, Meredith was allowed to register for classes the following morning, and became the first black graduate from the university in August 1963.

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