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.
The Price of Defiance: James Meredith and the Integration of Ole Missby Charles W. Eagles
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.
Simply put, this is the best study of this dramatic episode we have. . . . An invaluable contribution to our understanding of an important, complex, arguably pivotal moment in American history.History News Network
Eagles' goal of presenting the wide context of Meredith's fight doesn't prevent him from giving readers a gripping rendition of the events that followed.Chapter16.org
Eagles places the events of the fall of 1962 in the context of the times. . . . His narrative description of the years leading up to 1960 should be required reading for every Mississippi high school senior. . . . Nuanced, fully researched, comprehensive, and written in a way that conveys the immediacy of the events.Jackson Free Press
A suitably landmark volume for a deservedly landmark event in the civil rights movement.Arkansas Review
[A] definitive history of James H. Meredith's 1962 violent integration of the all-white university. . . . Provides a perspective only a dedicated historian can do, tapping deeply into sources, files and unknown documents to bring alive one of the historical civil rights moments of the 20th century.Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
Well-researched and thoroughly detailed, The Price of Defiance is a valuable study of one [of] the most influential episodes in American Civil Rights history….Well-written and engaging, this piece of modern biography is an accomplishment in the fields of Southern and Civil Rights history." Southern Historian
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Meet the Author
Charles W. Eagles has taught history at the University of Mississippi since 1983. His books include Outside Agitator: Jon Daniels and the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama and The Civil Rights Movement in America.
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