A highly independent man, James Meredith is an individual American citizen who demanded and received the constitutional rights held by every American Citizen, not simply a result of the Civil Rights Movement.
When interviewed in 2002 on the 40th anniversary of his enrollment at University of Mississippi, Meredith said, “Nothing could be more insulting to me than the concept of civil rights. It means perpetual second-class citizenship for me and my kind.”
James Howard Meredith is a Citizenship Rights activist, writer, businessman, political adviser, and Air Force veteran. Born in 1933 in Kosciusko, Mississippi, the son of Roxie (Smith) and Moses Meredith. He is of African-American, British Canadian, Scots and Choctaw heritage.
After attending local segregated schools and graduating from high school, Meredith enlisted in the United States Air Force. He served from 1951 to 1960. He then attended Jackson State University for two years, achieving good grades.
In 1962, he became the first Black Mississippi-American student admitted to the segregated University of Mississippi after intervention of the federal government. Meredith’s admission is regarded as a pivotal moment in the history of citizenship rights in the United States and ending the institution of white supremacy. He persisted through harassment and extreme isolation to graduate in 1963 with a degree in political science.
In June 1966 Meredith began a solo 220-mile Walk Against Fear from Memphis, TN to Jackson, MS to highlight continuing racism in the South and encourage voter registration after passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He did not want major civil rights organizations involved.
The second day, he was shot by a white gunman and suffered numerous wounds. Leaders of major organizations vowed to complete the walk in his name after he was taken to the hospital. While Meredith was recovering, more people from across the country became involved.
He rejoined the walk and when Meredith and other leaders entered Jackson on June 26, they were leading an estimated 15,000 marchers, in what was the largest civil rights march in Mississippi.
During the course of it, more than 4,000 African Americans had registered to vote, and the march was a catalyst to continued community organizing and additional registration.
Dr. Meredith has written 27 publications, and participated in thousands of talks, presentations, interviews, and videos. Recent public activities focus the Ten Commandments and education.
Personal interviews of Dr. Meredith by Michael Harris
James Meredith Talks About His 1966 March Against Fear 5:37
In honor of his “Walk For The Poor,” NVLP presents this clip of pioneering activist James Meredith speaking about his 1966 “March Against Fear.”
Is James Meredith a hero? | Integrating Ole Miss | MPB
James Meredith (March 25, 2007) 9:42
Robert H. Jackson Center
James Meredith, citizenship and civil rights activist best known for his integration of the University of Mississippi, was interviewed at the Robert H. Jackson Center on March 25, 2007. Copyright 2010 Robert H. Jackson Center.
James Meredith ‘Still At War’ 50 Years After Ending Segregation On Mississippi Campus
On 1 October, 1962 James Meredith enrolled as the first African American student at the segregated University of Mississippi. White students and anti-desegregation supporters protested against his enrollment by rioting on the Oxford campus. US Marshals were brought in to protect the 28-year-old as he went to class. President John F Kennedy also sent members of the National Guard to restore order. It is regarded as an iconic moment in the US civil rights history, but Mr. Meredith has always felt uncomfortable being labelled as part of that movement.
James Meredith Shot During the March Against Fear 2:27
James Meredith, The Integration of Ole Miss and the March Against Fear 1:04:24
June 4, 2016 at The Newseum, Washington, D.C. On the 50th anniversary of the “March Against Fear,” Judy Meredith, wife of civil rights leader James Meredith, talked about the attempted assassination of her husband during the march. The program also features an interview with James Meredith conducted by Meek School of Journalism and New Media students, Jared Boyd and Logan Kirkland.