Civil rights pioneer and trailblazer James Meredith will be speaking at Coahoma Community College in The Pinnacle at 10 a.m. Thursday.
As part of CCC’s 70th celebration, Meredith is being welcomed to campus for an in-depth discussion on race, equality and relevancy in an ever-changing socio-economic landscape.
CCC hopes to bring insightful, thought-provoking speakers to the CCC campus for the benefit of its students, faculty, staff and the greater community.
Meredith was the first African-American to attend the University of Mississippi. Initially, he was denied admission because he was black, but in 1962, a federal court ordered the school to admit Meredith. When Governor Ross Barnett refused to comply, President Kennedy sent in federal marshals and troops to escort Meredith to the school. By enrolling in Ole Miss, James Meredith put his life on the line.
James Meredith was born in Kosciusko, on June 25, 1933. Enlisting in the Air Force immediately after high school, James Meredith served from 1951 through 1960.
He attended Jackson State College for two years, then applied to the University of Mississippi, saying that he wanted to make this move in the interest of his country, race, family and himself.
Meredith said, “Nobody handpicked me... I believed, and believe now, that I have a divine responsibility… I am familiar with the probable difficulties involved in such a move as I am undertaking, and I am fully prepared to pursue it all the way to a degree from the University of Mississippi.”
Despite being fully qualified, Meredith was denied twice, just as Medgar Evers had been. On May 31, 1961, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a suit in the U.S. District Court alleging that the color of his skin was the only reason for Meredith not being accepted into the university.
The case went through many hearings and finally made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that Meredith had the right to be admitted.