A Call to Mississippi
October 26, 2015
James Meredith is best known for being the first African-American to attend the segregated University of Mississippi. He held a 200 mile March Against Fear from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi, where he was shot at and hit three times and quickly rushed to the hospital. On October 16, 2015, James Meredith made an appearance at the Civil Rights Institution in downtown Coeur d’Alene Idaho to present his beliefs while also promoting his most recent book, A Mission from God.
A Mission From God, the title of James Meredith’s Autobiography tells the epic events of the American civil rights era and the desegregation of the University of Mississippi in 1962 that he had been through. He was the courageous man who took action for what he believes in and greatly helped open the doors of education to all Americans. James Meredith’s book written by himself and William Doyle was published in 2012. His book is considered as memoir and challenge for America.
On June 5th, 1966, James Meredith led the March Against Fear to protest against racism. He did not want it to be a media dominated event, so he invited only black men. On the second day of the march, James Meredith was shot at and hit three times by a white gunman. He was quickly rushed to the hospital as the march carried on. The gunman was later found. Although his jail time was six months he only spent eighteen days in the jail cell and was soon let out. James Meredith gave a grin as he told, “That was the first white man to serve any time in jail for a crime against a black man.”
I got the opportunity to meet this 83-year-old man on October 16th at the downtown Coeur d’ Alene Civil Rights Institution. He spoke to a private group of about 30 North Idaho College students and held another event that night. I noticed certain characteristics that would give the idea of how powerful yet humble James Meredith could be. James was seated next to his two friends who were both a historian and a journalist. He had been friends with these two white men for nearly 50 years, through the desegregation. He repeatedly told us how he was courageous because he was sent by God to do the dangerous acts that nobody else would want to do.
The first question we asked, of course, was, “Why would you come to Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho of all places?” He responded by telling us how anyone can become courageous through God to make a difference in this world. He told us to call somebody in Mississippi and tell them how we have been changed into a diverse society and they too can become one. He is traveling to many colleges and other locations to share his stories. “I promised my God two things; Not to lie and not to judge”, he references to almost every question ask about his past. James Meredith is an inspiration to those who have learned what he has done to shape America through the time of extreme segregation, and he continues to make an impact.