The Battle of Ole Miss: Civil Rights v. States' Rights

The Battle of Ole Miss: Civil Rights v. States' Rights

The Battle of Ole Miss: Civil Rights v. States' Rights

The Battle of Ole Miss: Civil Rights v. States' Rights


James Meredith broke the color barrier in 1962 as the first African American student at Ole Miss. The violent riot that followed would be one of the most deadly clashes of the civil rights era, seriously wounding scores of U.S. Marshals and killing two civilians, and forcing the federal government to send thousands of soldiers to restore the peace.

In The Battle of Ole Miss: Civil Rights v. States' Rights, Frank Lambert--who was a student at Ole Miss at the time and witnessed many of these events--provides an engaging narrative of the tumultuous period surrounding Meredith's arrival at the University of Mississippi. Written from the unique perspective of a student, Lambert explores the riot and its aftermath, examining why James Meredith deemed it important enough to risk his life in order to enter Ole Miss and why scores of white students resisted Meredith's enrollment. Lambert captures the complex and confused reactions of the students--most of whom had never given race a second thought--and many of whom were not averse to Meredith attending Ole Miss.

In examining this single incident, Lambert illuminates the broader themes of social and cultural fault lines, Mississippi race relations, the fight for racial justice, and the political realignment that transformed the south. Part of the Critical Historical Encountersseries,The Battle of Ole Miss:Civil Rights v. States' Rightsis an ideal supplement for undergraduate U.S. Survey courses and courses in African American History, Civil Rights, the U.S. Since 1945, and the 1960s.


The volumes in this Oxford University Press book series focus on major critical encounters in the American experience. The word “critical” refers to formative, vital, transforming events and actions that have had a major impact in shaping the ever-changing contours of life in the United States. “Encounter” indicates a confrontation or clash, oftentimes but not always contentious in character, but always full of profound historical meaning and consequence.

In this framework, the United States, it can be said, has evolved on contested ground. Conflict and debate, the clash of peoples and ideas, have marked and shaped American history. The first Europeans transported with them cultural assumptions that collided with Native American values and ideas. Africans forced into bondage and carried to America added another set of cultural beliefs that often were at odds with those of Native Americans and Europeans. Over the centuries America’s diverse peoples differed on many issues, often resulting in formative conflict that in turn gave form and meaning to the American experience.

The Critical Historical Encounters series emphasizes formative episodes in America’s contested history. Each volume contains two fundamental ingredients: a carefully written narrative of the encounter and the consequences, both immediate and long-term, of that moment of conflict in America’s contested history.

In The Battle of Ole Miss: Civil Rights v. States’ Rights, Frank Lambert returns to one of the Civil Rights’ battlefields. In the fall . . .

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