Fifty year ago this October, James Meredith became the first African American to enroll at the University of Mississippi. Rioting occurred on campus resulting in two deaths. More than 500 federal marshals, federal troops, and the National Guard were called in to restore order. Despite the fact that he was harassed on campus, Meredith persevered and graduated with a degree in political science in August 1963.
Today African Americans make up about 16 percent of the undergraduate student body at Ole Miss.
The university is currently celebrating the anniversary of its racial integration with a year-long event entitled “Opening the Closed Society.”
The year-long celebration will culminate on October 1, with a keynote address to the university community by Harry Belafonte.