James Meredith’s successful campaign to gain admission to the University of Mississippi, ‘Ole Miss’, and desegregate education in the state most resistant to integration of educational institutions has become a crucial epitome in the civil rights movement. The integration of Ole Miss altered Mississippi’s politics and contributed to a cultural shift in the region, as well as rejuvenated local civil rights activists and those in neighboring states.
The historic confrontation among James Meredith and the University of Mississippi gives perspective on the category of African-Americans in the U.
S. civilization during the 20th century; breaking down the multi-layered notions of the combat of Ole Miss gives insight on the social and political forces that identified and cooperated with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. On September 30, 1962, riots evolved on the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford where residents, perspective students, and committed segregationists joined to protest the enrollment and placement of James Meredith, African-American Air Force veteran attempting to integrate the all-white school.
Despite the presence of more than 120 federal marshals who were on site to protect Meredith from danger, “the crowd turned violent after nightfall, and authorities struggled to maintain order”. Once the disappeared the next morning, two citizens were dead and an abundant amount were reportedly injured. For Meredith, this was a step into the door for a process that began no more than two years earlier when he challenged the school, suspecting that he was denied enrollment on the background of ethnicity.
However, a lower court partnered with the University of Mississippi, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit established a decision in June 1962 which ordered the school to accept Meredith in the fall of 1962, ensuring an enormous conflict between the federal government and Mississippi’s state government anti-integration. After spending the night of September 30 with federal protection, Meredith was permitted to register for courses the morning after, and then became the first African-American to graduate from Ole Miss in August 1963.
During this time period there were several events occurring that were related to the Civil Rights Movement. For example, years prior, in 1955-1957 the Montgomery Bus Boycott took place. With this bus boycott Rosa Park ignites a 381-day boycott organized by Martin Luther King Jr. The Freedom Riders of 1961 who opposed to segregation took buses to the South to protest the segregation of bus stations; many were greeted with riots and beatings by segregationist. The “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” was another major event throughout this time of the Civil Rights Movement.
Dr. King wrote this letter in response to Caucasian ministers who urged him to stop causing disturbances and articulates his nonviolent movement/resistance to wrongs of American society. Lastly, the murder of Medgar Evers (head of Mississippi NAACP), who was shot outside of his home on the exact night that President Kennedy addressed the nation on the notion of race. These key events related to the Integration of Ole Miss significantly because each event desired to integrate and with nonviolence.
The civil rights movement, which increased in size during WWII because of the NAACP’s membership growing from 50,000 to 500,000 obtained momentum in 1954 with the Supreme Court Case of Brown v. Board of Education. The result of this case was the Court ruling that segregation of schools was deemed unconstitutional. By 1956 Kentucky, Oklahoma, Missouri, Maryland and Delaware had progressed to desegregate their schools, but for Southern Caucasians white supremacy was intensely set in cultural morals and social conferences, integration was not a choice.
Many white supremacists referenced anti-integration as the Second Reconstruction. This would give whites an extra opportunity to control African-Americans. In Mississippi officials reacted with a design to “balance” schools, the government produced the State Sovereignty Commission, which protected the sovereignty of Mississippi and enforce racial segregation in the public eye. Politics were an unjust ideology during the 20th century. Many African-Americans gave up on the government being on their side to gain equal rights and justice.
However, there were prominent political figures throughout the Civil Rights Movement who assisted African-Americans in gaining bits of equality. Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy stated: it is fundamental in our system that there be respect for the law and compliance with all the laws – not just those which we happen to agree. The course which Governor Barnett is following is, therefore, incompatible with the principles upon which the Union is based. James Meredith was escorted onto and off campus by the National Guard, but that was not enough.
Robert and John Kennedy both made historical speeches in order to grant equality and security to the African-American civilization. On the contrary, Governor Barnett upheld his beliefs as a white supremacist and aimed so deeply to maintain segregation in the state of Mississippi. Barnett broadcasted through television and radio on September 13, 1962 to express his profound ideas of white domination. He states: I have made my position in this matter crystal clear. I have said in every county in Mississippi that no school in our state will be integrated while I am your Governor.
I shall do everything in my power to prevent integration in our schools. I assure you that the schools will not be closed if this can possibly be avoided, but they will not be integrated if I can prevent it. As your Governor and Chief Executive of the sovereign State of Mississippi, I now call on every public official and every private citizen of our great state to join me. It is disturbing to know that a leader of a Union would work so immensely to disagree with everything the union stands for. Governor Barnett was willing to go against the political ideologies of the Constitution in order to maintain segregation in the Mississippi.
In conclusion, The Integration of Ole Miss is sadly more “celebrated” than remembered. The University of Mississippi hung signs that read “Opening the Closed Society” and “50 Years of Courage”, but forget that before the state could celebrate integration they enforced over 100 years of segregation. Its almost if the university is celebrating emancipation without tackling its sin first. In order for future generations to understand what the “closed society” was like we must break down the true notions of the social and political forces that cooperated with the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.
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The Integration of Ole Miss. (2016, Dec 11). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-integration-of-ole-miss-essay