Why Was James Meredith Important to The Civil Rights Movement: Analytical Essay

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“The price of progress is indeed high, but the price of holding back is much higher” - James Meredith

This is a quote that a man named James Meredith wrote in 1962 when the Supreme Court upheld his right to attend the University of Mississippi, which at the time was an all-white school. Meredith was therefore the first african american student at this university for which, pursuant to the ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA’s article James Meredith, he gained national renown, especially because it took place at a key juncture in the civil rights movement in 1962.

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So, who is this man? James Meredith is an American civil rights activist born on June 25, 1933, in rural Kosciusko, Mississippi, U.S. On Stanford The Martin Luther King, Jr.

Research and Education Institute’s website, in the article Meredith, James Howard, you can read that Meredith was the 7th of 13 children and had a difficult time growing up in Mississippi. Therefore he later on moved to live with his aunt in St. Petersburg, Florida. There he could attend state schools that were preeminent compared to those in Kosciusko. In 1951 he graduated from high school and went on to serve in the U.S. Air Force for nine years. After finalizing his service Meredith returned to Mississippi, enrolling in Jackson State University, an all-black school.

If we now come back to where we started, the following events got underway when Meredith, in January 1961, made the decision to submit his initial application to the University of Mississippi, where African American students were not permitted to attend. According to the website Black History in America’s article James Meredith his motivation for doing this was to make a move for the sake of his “country, race, family and himself” (Black History in America. 200120.). He stated, '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.' (James Meredith. Black History in America. 200120.).

James Meredith applied a total of two times, both of which were rejected, even though being fully qualified. This resulted in Meredith, with the help of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), filing a suit on May 31, 1961, claiming the reason for his being denied was solely based on his skin color and through this also challenging the university’s segregation policy. After over a year of the case going through multiple hearings and protracted court battles the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Meredith’s favor, establishing his right to be admitted.

Still, state officials tried to hinder the admission, one of them being Ross Barnett, the Governor of Mississippi. BRITANNICA writes that the day Meredith was to be registered at The University of Mississippi he was accompanied by federal marshals to protect him from a massive campus riot that left two bystanders dead. At last James Meredith could attend the school he had been in a legal battle with over the last year. He graduated in 1963 and later on wrote a memoir, yclept “Three Years in Mississippi”, regarding the experience.

James Meredith has throughout his life continued to speak up about civil rights. He is today 86 years old, happily married, and has four children. One of whom, Joseph Meredith, graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2002 as the most exceptional doctoral student in the School of Business Administration. At the occasion Meredith said this; 'I think there's no better proof that White supremacy was wrong than not only to have my son graduate, but to graduate as the most outstanding graduate of the school...That, I think, vindicates my whole life.'

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Why Was James Meredith Important to The Civil Rights Movement: Analytical Essay. (2023, September 19). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 25, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/why-was-james-meredith-important-to-the-civil-rights-movement-analytical-essay/
“Why Was James Meredith Important to The Civil Rights Movement: Analytical Essay.” Edubirdie, 19 Sept. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/why-was-james-meredith-important-to-the-civil-rights-movement-analytical-essay/
Why Was James Meredith Important to The Civil Rights Movement: Analytical Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/why-was-james-meredith-important-to-the-civil-rights-movement-analytical-essay/> [Accessed 25 Jul. 2024].
Why Was James Meredith Important to The Civil Rights Movement: Analytical Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Sept 19 [cited 2024 Jul 25]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/why-was-james-meredith-important-to-the-civil-rights-movement-analytical-essay/
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