Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Ole Miss Marks 40th Anniversary of Its Violent Integration. (Noteworthy News)

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Ole Miss Marks 40th Anniversary of Its Violent Integration. (Noteworthy News)

Article excerpt

OXFORD, MISS.

James Meredith, whose admission to the University of Mississippi led to a deadly campus uprising 40 years ago, said he wishes he played a larger role in the fight against segregation.

"I'm not really too proud because I know that I could have provided stronger leadership than I did," Meredith said. "And I could have brought things to people's attention, but in the hope of harmony I didn't."

Meredith, 69, participated in ceremonies early this month honoring those who helped end the Sept. 30, 1962, rioting that occurred when he was enrolled as the first Black student at Ole Miss.

Meredith reflected on his role in the school's integration during a full day of celebration marked by the public recognition of the acts of soldiers and marshals who risked their lives four decades ago.

Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers and former head of the NAACP, said Meredith is an activist worthy of praise.

"James Meredith opened the doors of this university so that everyone who was qualified could have access to the best education possible," Evers-Williams told a crowd of 2,000 gathered to kickoff a yearlong commemoration of the university's integration. Evers-Williams urged listeners to remember the sacrifices made by Meredith and her husband in their fight for equality. Medgar Evers, field secretary for the NAACP, was gunned down outside his home in 1963 by a white supremacist.

"Once we forget about the freedoms there's a tendency for them to erode," Evers-Williams said. …

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