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Meredith: Why Are Students Mad At Me?

Oct. 2, 1962 - James H. Meredith (pictured) turned today to the delicate and perhaps impossible task of gaining personal acceptance on the campus of the University of Mississippi, where he is the only Negro among 5,500 whites. “Isn’t it a lonely, difficult life?” he was asked. There was a dry edge to his soft voice as he slowly replied: “Well, I’ve been living a lonely life a long time.” Several students, he said, greeted him in classes and he was received civilly. But he said he had not conversed with any students, and nobody sat directly beside him. The 29-year-old student was asked what he would like to say to his fellow students if he had the opportunity. “I’ve noticed that a number of students looked like they’re mad,” he said. “I don’t know what they’re mad at. If they’re mad at me, I’d like to know what about.” Though demonstrations against Mr. Meredith were more restrained today, some students openly declared that they were out to “get” him. An effigy with a black, oil-cloth head, white shirt, and khaki trousers was hung from a third-story window at Vardaman Hall and remained there all day. It was labeled, “We’re gonna miss you when you’re gone.” Mr. Meredith was asked if he was considering leaving the university. “If this stops me, then it’s no different having been officially stopped,” he said. “No one’s said anything to me about leaving. At this point, it’s more for America than for me.” “Do you feel any sense of guilt for the two people who died after you arrived here?” he was asked. “I’m very sorry that anyone had to get hurt or killed, but I think that’s an unfair question to ask me. I don’t believe any of you people believe that I’m responsible for that.”

#civilrights #history #OTD #1960s #MLK