Kennedy Library to Mark 40th Anniversary of Landmark Civil-Rights Event on September 30th: James Meredith and the Integration of Ole Miss

For Immediate Release: September 20, 2002
Further information: Ann Scanlon (617) 514-1662

BOSTON: The John F. Kennedy Library will host a special forum, James Meredith and the Integration of Ole Miss, on September 30th from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the registration of James Meredith as the first black student at the University of Mississippi, a landmark event in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. On October 1, 1962, James H. Meredith was officially registered as a student at the University of Mississippi, marking the school's integration, following a night of rioting that claimed the lives of two students and injured 160 federal marshals.

Participants in the Kennedy Library forum, James Meredith and the Integration of Ole Miss, include:

  • James H. Meredith, the first black student admitted to the University of Mississippi in 1962, civil rights activist, and author of Three Years in Mississippi and Mississippi: A Volume of Eleven Books
  • John Doar, Justice Department lawyer with the Civil Rights Division (1961-1967) for the Kennedy administration who accompanied James Meredith to the University of Mississippi in 1962; lead prosecutor in the 1964 "Mississippi Burning Trial"
  • Ernest Green, one of the "Little Rock Nine," nine black teenagers who in 1957 integrated the then all-white Central High School, Little Rock, Arkansas; served as Assistant Labor Secretary for Employment and Training in the Carter administration
  • Burke Marshall, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights for the Kennedy and Johnson administrations (1961-1964); key figure in determining policy and decisions in the Meredith case
  • Juan Williams, senior correspondent for NPR's Morning Edition and narrator of Eyes on the Prize, will serve as moderator.

In 1962, 29-year-old James Meredith had served in the U.S. military for nine years and was accepted, on paper, as a student at the University of Mississippi. When the state realized Mr. Meredith was black, his entrance to the then all-white university was denied. The governor and lieutenant governor each physically blocked his entrance to the school. Mr. Meredith sued the state, and the 5th Judicial Circuit Court upheld his right to attend the school as he met academic and residency requirements for admission. Rioting on the evening of September 30, 1962, led to the death of two bystanders and injuries to 160 federal marshals sent in by the Kennedy administration. The following day, October 1, 1962, escorted by Justice Department attorney John Doar and federal marshals, James Meredith registered as the first black student at the University of Mississippi.

Kennedy Library forums are free and open to the public. Reservations are required and may be made by calling (617) 929-4571. The Kennedy Library Forums Series is made possible by the generous support of The Lowell Institute and Boston Capital and media sponsorship from The Boston Globe, 90.9 WBUR, and

The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum is a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and supported, in part, by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit organization. The Kennedy Library and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history, and culture, the process of governing and the importance of public service.