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When James Meredith enrolled as the first African American student at the University of Mississippi in 1962, the resulting riots produced more casualties than any other clash of the civil rights era. Eagles shows that the violence resulted from the university's and the state's long defiance of the civil rights movement and federal law. Ultimately, the price of such behavior—the price of defiance—was not only the murderous riot that rocked the nation and almost closed the university but also the nation's enduring scorn for Ole Miss and Mississippi. Eagles paints a remarkable portrait of Meredith himself by describing his unusual family background, his personal values, and his service in the U.S. Air Force, all of which prepared him for his experience at Ole Miss.
University of Mississippi historian Eagles turns a critical eye on his own university in this exhaustive and exhausting look at racism at Ole Miss. Although James Meredith, the school's first black student, figures prominently in the title, he takes center stage only in the book's second half, which examines the opposition to his historic 1962 enrollment. With painstaking research and detail, Eagles explores the university's history, from its founding in 1848 as an alternative to Northern universities, where students might be exposed to abolitionist ideas. Eagles also shows how the foundation for Meredith's enrollment was laid by earlier black applicants, who included Medgar Evers (turned down for the law school in 1954) and a pastor named Clennon King, also rejected and placed in a mental hospital for 12 days following a politically motivated "lunacy hearing" after his rejection. In chapters dense with material from court rulings and memoirs by the parties involved, Eagles traces the legal and political standoff before Meredith's first day on campus and the university's eventual confrontation, with the fatal riot that ensued. Photos. (Aug. 1)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Part 1: Ole Miss and Race
1 "Welcome to Ole Miss, Where Everybody Speaks"
2 Following Community Mores: J. D. Williams and Postwar Race Relations
3 "I Love Colored People, but in Their Place": Segregation at Ole Miss
4 "Negroes Who Didn't Know Their Place": Early Attempts at Integration
5 Integration and Insanity: Clennon King in 1958
6 They Will "Want to Dance with Our Girls": Unwritten Rules and Rebel Athletics
7 "Mississippi Madness": Will Campbell and Religious Emphasis Week
8 Nemesis of the Southern Way of Life—Jim Silver
9 "On the Brink of Disaster": Defending States' Rights, Anticommunism, and Segregation
10 "Thought Control": The Editor and the Professor
Part 2: James Meredith
11 The Making of a Militant Conservative—J. H. Meredith
12 "I Regret to Inform You . . . "
13 Meredith v. Fair I: "Delay, Harassment, and Masterly Inactivity"
14 Meredith v. Fair II: A "Legal Jungle"
15 Negotiations: A Game of Checkers
Part 3: A Fortress of Segregation Falls
16 Initial Skirmishing: September 20-25, 1962
17 Confrontations: September 26-30, 1962
18 "A Maelstrom of Savagery and Hatred": The Riot
19 "Prisoner of War in a Strange Struggle": Meredith at Ole Miss
20 J. H. Meredith, Class of '63
21 "The Fight for Men's Minds"
Essay on Sources
Posted December 19, 2013
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