JAMES MEREDITH Biography - Activists, Revolutionaries and other freedom fighters


Biography » activists revolutionaries and other freedom fighters » james meredith


Meredith was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, on June 25th, 1933. From 1951       
to 1960 he served in the American Air Force. After this, Meredith studied         
at Jackson State College for two years. Following this, he applied to             
start a course at the University of Mississippi. He was rejected twice.           
Meredith filed a complaint with the courts that he had been rejected by           
the university simply because he was black. His complaint was rejected by         
a district court, but on appeal, the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court                 
supported him and ruled against the district court stating that the               
University of Mississippi was indeed maintaining a policy of segregation         
in its admissions policy.                                                         
The issue did not end there - if anything, the whole controversy was             
inflamed still further when state officials and students at the university       
voiced their opposition to Meredith being given a place there. Threats           
were made against Meredith and Robert Kennedy, the Attorney-General, sent         
federal marshals to protect Meredith. Riots followed and 160 marshals were       
wounded (28 by gun shots) and 2 bystanders were killed on the Oxford             
Regardless of this, Meredith attended the university and graduated in             
1964. However, being the focal point of such racism seemed to ignite a           
passion in Meredith. In March 1966, he started his 'March Against Fear'           
from Memphis to Jackson to protest against racism - especially the               
violence many African-Americans faced when attempting to register to vote.       
Shortly into his march, Meredith was shot and was hospitalised. However,         
his place on the march was taken by such figures in the civil rights             
movement as Martin Luther King and Stokely Carmichael who determined to           
finish the march on Meredith's behalf.                                           
Meredith rejoined the march on June 25th, 1966 after his hospital                 
treatment. On the following day they reached their target - Jackson in           
After this, James Meredith continued his further education at the                 
University of Ibadan (from 1964 to 1965) in Nigeria and at Columbia               
University (from 1966 to 1968). He gained A LL.B from Columbia University.       
By the end of the 1960's, Meredith became a stockbroker and effectively           
stopped being a civil rights activist. He joined the Republican Party and         
attacked white liberals for being the 'greatest enemy' of African                 
Americans. James even opposed making the birthday of Martin Luther King a         
national holiday in America. In March 1997, James Meredith presented his         
papers to the University of Mississippi.