On September 30, 1962, President John F. Kennedy went on television and spoke to the students of the University of Mississippi. “The eyes of the nation and all the world are upon you.” he said, “and upon all of us.” For the first time in the history of the United States, a young black man was trying to enroll in an all white school. Protesters had come out in full force on the university campus in the southern town of Oxford. By the time Kennedy gave his speech, rioting had began. Federal marshals were called in to keep the peace. The used tear gas in an attempt to calm the angry crowd.
On October 1, 1962 James Meredith became the first black man to go to college at the University of Mississippi (Ole’ Miss). His enrollment publicly opposed by segregationist Governor Ross Barnett, sparkes tons of riot on the Oxford campus. The fight raged through the night. “This is the worst thing I’ve seen in forty-five years,” said President Kennedy with great sadness. How had this come to pass? Why did America, “Home of the free,” need to call in troops to enroll a lone African American in a public university?
In the early sixties, the South remained a highly segregated part of the country. Whites lived separately from Blacks. they were usually better off, and they went to their own schools. Many white people were comfortable with their way of life, and they were willing to fight and keep it that way. It took lots of courage of people like James Meredith to break down these racial barriers . James Howard Meredith was born June 25, 1933. iHe was born in Kosciusko. Mississippi, in the fertile lowlands east of the Mississippi River. His father was a successful farmer. “James was a quiet boy, and a bit of a loner.” He studies hard at school, and his father was impressed by the amount of reading he did on his own. It was clear from an early age that James was brave. He did not scare easily. He felt no fear when walking alone through the woods near his house at night....
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