James Meredith broke the color barrier in 1962 as the first African American student at Ole Miss. The violent riot that followed would be one of the most deadly clashes of the civil rights era, seriously wounding scores of U.S. Marshals and killing two civilians, and forcing the federal government to send thousands of soldiers to restore the peace.
In The Battle of Ole Miss: Civil Rights v. States' Rights, Frank Lambert--who was a student at Ole Miss at the time and witnessed many of these events--provides an engaging narrative of the tumultuous period surrounding Meredith's arrival at the University of Mississippi. Written from the unique perspective of a student, Lambert explores the riot and its aftermath, examining why James Meredith deemed it important enough to risk his life in order to enter Ole Miss and why scores of white students resisted Meredith's enrollment. Lambert captures the complex and confused reactions of the students--most of whom had never given race a second thought--and many of whom were not averse to Meredith attending Ole Miss.
In examining this single incident, Lambert illuminates the broader themes of social and cultural fault lines, Mississippi race relations, the fight for racial justice, and the political realignment that transformed the south. Part of the Critical Historical Encounters series, The Battle of Ole Miss: Civil Rights v. States' Rights is an ideal supplement for undergraduate U.S. Survey courses and courses in African American History, Civil Rights, the U.S. Since 1945, and the 1960s.