Author is only one of
many hats worn by the enigmatic James Meredith. Born June 25, 1933,
in Kosciusko, Mississippi, Meredith is best known as the first African-American
student of the University of Mississippi.
Meredith served in the Air Force from 1951 to 1960, including a
tour of duty in Japan. He then attended Jackson
State College for two years. In the fall of 1962 Meredith risked
his life when he successfully applied the laws of integration and
became the first black student at the University of Mississippi,
a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement which sparked riots
on the Oxford campus that left two people dead.
In 1966 he recounted
the experience in his first publication, Three Years in Mississippi.
Of that book, a reviewer for Newsweek wrote, “Seldom
is a piece of violent history so dispassionately dissected by one
of its participants as it has been by James Meredith in this three-years-later
study of his breakthrough at the University of Mississippi. Part
report and part legal brief, part manifesto, part tract, it is a
valuable and fascinating account.”
Shortly after the publication of
Three Years in Mississippi, Meredith conceived and organized
the “Walk Against Fear,” a march from Memphis to Jackson,
Mississippi, in a bold and selfless repudiation of the physical
violence faced by African-Americans for exercising their voting
rights. Meredith was shot on the march, and when he was physically
able to resume the march, he did so, joined this time by the Rev.
Martin Luther King, Jr., and other prominent civil rights leaders
of the day.
In 1968 Meredith received a LL.B.
from Columbia University.
Merediths career has included a run for a congressional seat
in 1972 and, in perhaps his most controversial move yet, a stint
on the staff of arch-conservative Senator Jesse Helms beginning
in 1989. Merediths most recent publication is a historical
work: Mississippi: A Volume of Eleven Books was published
On March 21, 1997, James Meredith
his papers to the University of Mississippi where they are maintained
by the Special Collections branch of the J.D.
(Article first posted October
Related Links & Info
American Journey: Meredith, James Howard:
Article on James Meredith (from World
Tour of the Civil Rights Movement features two newspaper photographs
of James Meredith:
- Three Years in Mississippi. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966.
- Mississippi: A Volume of Eleven Books. Jackson, Mississippi: Meredith Publishing, 1995.
Reviews of Three Years in Mississippi:
- Newsweek April 18, 1966, March 27, 1967, December 23, 1968
- Book Week April 24, 1966
- New Yorker May 21, 1966
- Saturday Review May 28, 1966
- Life June 17, 1966
- Nation June 27, 1966
- National Review June 28, 1966
- New York Time Book Review July 3, 1966
Articles in The
Daily Mississippian (University of Mississippi's student newspaper):
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