Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ole Miss

I visited the University of Mississippi this morning, the school integrated by James Meredith in 1962. I'm guessing that the scene couldn't have been more different from Meredith's nearly 50 years ago. It was a virtual ghost town today, which isn't surprising considering that I arrived on campus at 8:45am on a Sunday morning in July.

Ole Miss is a beautiful place. I can't imagine what fall Saturdays must be like when the Rebels have a home game. The tailgating area known at "The Grove" is famous throughout the college football world. The only "person" in the Grove this morning, however, was a squirrel. A few hundred yards away is Lyceum Cirlce, where you are greated by a large statue honoring Confederate soldiers killed in the Civil War. Behind the Lyceum (which Meredith first went to register for classes) is one of the newer editions to the Ole Miss campus: a beautiful status of James Meredith making this treacherous walk. For those of you who aren't familiar with Meredith's struggle to integrate Ole Miss, it was every bit as dangerous at the integration of Central High School in Little Rock. 2 people were killed and 3000 troops were called in to end 15 hours of protests. Meredith was escorted to the Lyceum by FBI agents and armed guards.

James Meredith ended up graduating from Ole Miss, and he wrote a book entitled Three Years in Mississippi documenting his time as the school's only African-American student. He is one of the forgotten heroes of the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to his courageous integration of Ole Miss, Meredith was nearly killed while completing a "Walk Against Fear" from Memphis to Jackson.

Tomorrow, I'm leaving Memphis and heading to the Mississippi Delta region. I'll leave the big city as my civil rights tour moves to the true "front lines" of the CRM...rural Mississippi and Alabama. Thanks for reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment