Today In History: James Meredith Integrates University of Mississippi

 Integration at Ole Miss:  James Meredith walking to class accompanied by U.S. marshals. The men flanking Meredith are U.S. Marshal James McShane (left) and John Doar of the Justice Department (right) October 1, 1962 Photographer: Marion S. Trikosko for U.S. News & World Report Source: Library of Congress

 Integration at Ole Miss:  James Meredith walking to class accompanied by U.S. marshals. The men flanking Meredith are U.S. Marshal James McShane (left) and John Doar of the Justice Department (right) October 1, 1962 Photographer: Marion S. Trikosko for U.S. News & World Report Source: Library of Congress

What do you see when you look at this photo? 

There is an entire novel I could write based on the characters in this photo alone.  The tight lipped scowl on the face of U.S. Marshall James McShane on the left, the disheveled appearance appearance of John Doar on the right whose suit seems to bear the discomfort of the mounting tension of the day.  I could write a horror film about the lurking presence of the two men behind Doar's left shoulder -one's soulless stare haunting me the more I look at it.  I see a mob -a mixture of men with white government issued hats and those who sans the presence of those hats would not hesitate to do what mobs of men have done to men like the one in the middle for years.

Then there is James.  James Meredith.  The look of poise and determination on his face is seemingly poetic.  In a photo where every nearly every person who is immediately surrounding him is looking down or who have eyes that have appear hollowed, stands a man with poise -the knot of his tie flawless.  What was he thinking?  Where did he get the courage?  When will we?

On this day (October 1) 51 years ago, James Meredith forced the United States Government and President John F. Kennedy to not feel settled with having signed laws that ensured the civil and human rights of all people.  By carrying out his mission of enrolling and thus integrating the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), he would consequently pressure the government to enforce those laws.  Up to this point, Ole Miss had been a whites only school and it had absolutely no intentions of changing that.

There is so much to learn about the months, days, moments leading up to this defining moment and the riots and deaths that ensued.  Learn More at 

http://microsites.jfklibrary.org/olemiss/home/  

-carlton
creator of 50 Shades of Black

Posted on October 1, 2013 and filed under activism, education, history, race.