1962 October 1

Riot, Federal Troops at University of Mississippi Over Integration

 

President John F. Kennedy ordered 23,000 federal troops on this day to the University of Mississippi to end rioting by students protesting the admission of James Meredith, an African-American. A U.S. District Court on the 13th of September had ordered Meredith enrolled at the University, but he was denied registration on September 20, 1962. When he finally enrolled on this day a mob of white racists assembled and a riot erupted. Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent 500 U.S. Marshals to the campus to preserve order, and they were supported by several different units of federal troops. Two people, including a French journalist, were killed, and 160 U. S. Marshals were injured in the riot.

Meredith eventually enrolled and became the first African-American student at the previously all-white university. He experienced continued harassment on the campus, however, and left after two semesters. He completed his undergraduate education elsewhere, and then graduated from Columbia University Law School in 1968.

Meredith later organized the 1966 “March Against Fear” in Mississippi, which began on June 6, 1966, where he was shot and wounded, and where Stokely Carmichael first gave the cry “Black Power” on June 16, 1966.

Watch news footage of the riot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8VvNkTXVCM

Listen to White House Meetings with President Kennedy and others on the Mississippi Crisis (look for 17 separate recordings, September 29–October 2, 1962): http://millercenter.org/scripps/archive/presidentialrecordings/kennedy/dictabelts

Read: Nancy Cohodas, The Band Played Dixie: Race and the Liberal Conscience at Ole Miss (1997)

Listen to President Kennedy’s White House telephone conversations during the University of Mississippi crisis (scroll down to find the appropriate dates)http://millercenter.org/presidentialrecordings/kennedy

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