James Meredith Civil Rights Movement

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Mid-twentieth century was a time of great significance in the United States of America. It was during this time that the Civil Rights Movement started and created an impact on society that can still be seen to this day. Starting with the Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education (1954), in which segregation in public schools was banned, the movement continued to grow and gave men like James Meredith opportunities that had never-before been available. Eight years into the Civil Rights Movement, Meredith left his own mark on history when he became the first black man to enroll and graduate from the University of Mississippi, thus integrating a school symbolized with white prestige. Although Meredith faced heavy resistance from state officials…show more content…
When he set his mind to something, he made it happen, regardless of the struggles he encountered because of his race. He pushed through the oppression and showed great leadership along the way. However, the actions of James Meredith are in no way surprising after learning about his upbringing and how he got to Ole Miss. According to the journal article “James Meredith and the Integration of Ole Miss”, by Nadine Cohadas (1997), Meredith was raised with great pride stemming from his family’s long history in the state of Mississippi. His grandmother had been a slave, but his father had become the first member of his family to own land. In Cohadas’ words, James referred to his home as a “sovereign state”, ruled by his father who had his own standards for handling the white supremacists of Mississippi. It was because of these standards that James became well aware of the racial oppression he was living in by the time he was a teenager and wanted to make a change. His change started with joining the Air Force when he turned 18, proving to be an essential part of life. Cohadas (1997) explains further stating, “He was trained to be a soldier and to fight, and he knew that when he returned home to honor the promise he had made to himself as a teenager, he would be ‘at war.’”…show more content…
The first step in his plan of action was to enroll in Jackson State College. It was here that Meredith studied liberal arts to broaden his range of ideas, making him a stronger candidate when applying to Ole Miss. This was only one part of a plan that was composed of several difference pieces. Perhaps the most significant of these pieces was the Kennedy administration. In another article, under same name as Cohadas’, Kelly Anne Donovan (2002) gives the background and the importance of Kennedy in her article, “James Meredith and the Integration of Ole Miss”. President Kennedy won the 1960 election and took office in January of 1961 after a tight race. The votes that pushed him over the edge though, were those of black voters. During his campaign, Kennedy had openly supported civil rights which in turn gave him the support of minority voters. With the election of the first president supportive of the Civil Right movement, Meredith saw this as the perfect opportunity to submit his application to the University of Mississippi, and he did so just one day after Kennedy’s inauguration on January 21,
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