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James Meredith
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    (June 25, 1933- )
    Born in Kosciusko, Mississippi
    Became the first black student to attend the University of Mississippi (October 1, 1962)
    Wrote ‘Three Years in Mississippi’ (1966) and ‘Mississippi: A Volume of Eleven Books’ (1995)
    His enrollment provoked riots that left 2 dead and 375 injured and required the US Marshals and 3,000 federal troops to quell.
    Although his enrollment is considered a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement, he has repeatedly said that he does not want to be described as a civil rights activist.
    He called non-violent activism ‘the most un-American thing in the world… and the worst thing that’s ever been presented to my people.’
    He served as domestic affairs advisor for conservative Senator Jesse Helms.
    He endorsed former Klansman David Duke’s campaign for governor of Louisiana.
    He served in the US Air Force for nine years (1951-60).
    He had tried to enroll at Ole Miss four previous times: twice he was personally blocked by the state governor, once by the lieutenant governor and 20 state troopers and once by a mob of 2,500 whites.
    During a voting-rights march, he was shot by a white sniper (June 6, 1966).
    He does not consider himself part of the civil rights movement because he was demanding the rights due any American citizen.
    He said that to gain access to the Library of Congress he offered his services to every member of the House and Senate, and Senator Helms was the only one to reply.
    He said, ‘I was always out of line. But I was deliberately out of line.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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