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James Meredith (1933-)

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James Meredith, Oxford, Mississippi, 1962.

In September 1962, Air Force veteran James Meredith, armed with a federal court order, attempted to register for classes at the previously all-white University of Mississippi. Blocked by state officials and violent mobs, Meredith was only able to enroll after the Kennedy administration sent in federal troops and marshals. Meredith graduated in 1963, and in June 1966, he began a "march against fear" from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi. After segregationists shot and wounded Meredith during his march, CORE, SNCC, and the SCLC took up the march, which was successfully completed later that month. Meredith later got a law degree from Columbia University and worked for conservative North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms.

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