Born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, on June 25, 1933, James Howard Meredith was raised on a farm with nine brothers and sisters, largely insulated from the racism of the time. His first experience with institutionalized racism occurred while riding a train from Chicago with his brother. When the train arrived in Memphis, Tennessee, Meredith was ordered to give up his seat and move to the crowded #black section of the train, where he had to stand for the rest of his trip home. He vowed then that he would dedicate his life ensuring equal treatment for African Americans.
Integrating the University of Mississippi
After high school, Meredith spent nine years in the Army Air Force before enrolling in Jackson State College—an all-black school—in Mississippi. In 1961, he applied to the all-white University of Mississippi. He was admitted, but his admission was withdrawn when the registrar discovered his race. Since all public educational institutions had been ordered to desegregate by this time (following 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling), Meredith filed a suit alleging discrimination. Although the district court ruled against him, the case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor.
When Meredith arrived at Ole Miss to register for classes on September 20, 1962, he found the entrance blocked. Rioting erupted, and Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent 500 U.S. Marshals to the scene. Additionally, President John F. Kennedy sent military police, troops from the Mississippi National Guard and officials from the U.S. Border Patrol. On October 1, 1962, James Meredith became the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi.
Meredith graduated with a degree in political science in 1963. He wrote an account of his experience, titled Three Years in Mississippi, which was published in 1966. He went on to receive a master’s degree in economics from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, and a law degree from Columbia University in 1968.
Read More Of This Article @http://www.biography.com