The 60th anniversary of the integration of the University of Mississippi by James Meredith has sent the campus into a frenzy as faculty and students prepare for both this major event and homecoming.
On Oct. 1, 1962, James Meredith paved the way for many of the African-American students that now attend the University of Mississippi.
Events such as “ Letters to Mr. Meredith” were organized by the Black Student Union, Associated Student Body and Graduate Student Council. It gave students an opportunity to voice their gratitude for the courageous choice Meredith made.
Senior multi-disciplinary studies major Te’Keyra Shelton said, “I feel like the events are good. I thought writing a letter to James Meredith was especially nice. The panel for students to talk about the media coverage seems like something interesting for people interested in sociology, history and journalism.”
In preparation for this week, the Black societies on Ole Miss campus all have different plans and responses to the events planned.
Integration week cannot be discussed without including the NAACP, whose UM chapter is currently led by Meghan Curry.
“I am super ecstatic and beyond blessed to be able to take on such a fulfilling role. This upcoming school year is very pivotal for the organization. It is a year filled with social reforms as they will be on the ballot and a year full of honoring the legacy of James Meredith who paved the way for myself and many other African American students on this campus,” Curry said. “Racial relations still need a lot of work on this campus and progress in achieving equity for all marginalized minorities here are needed. We are ready and more than willing to put in the work to achieve that. Let’s work, Let’s serve.”
The Black Student Union was created for minority students to come together and feel embraced, and President Dee Harris leads the organization into 15 organized events this semester.
James Meredith graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1963 with a degree in political science. Senior public policy leadership major Shaddia Lee is the president of Blacks In Political Studies, which was recently founded at the university to help minorities navigate political science, public policy and other policy-related majors. It provides minorities with resources, guidance and networking opportunities.
Lee said, “ In 1962, James Meredith made a big change on campus and I believe it should be honored and respected. As students, we need to know our history and its importance. Regardless of race or ethnicity, this is something that changed the dynamics of the school and history. After all, the resources here are amazing and the opportunities are life-changing. Integration week is so important and I hope it continues on campus.”
The Black Fashion Society promotes creativity, confidence and the unity of Black students. President Caroline Sanders assured that the organization will make an appearance for integration week, including a tabling event to enliven the student union plaza.
“The Black Fashion Society’s main goal is to reach out to the black community of Ole Miss and promote unity. We should be able to come together, look nice together and celebrate with each other,” Sanders said.
Even with the week full of packed events, some students feel a little uneasy about the integration week.
“They are all good ways to honor him and his legacy, but they aren’t appealing for the students since we are already so busy. It seems like more events are for an audience of alumni and faculty. I feel like it isn’t really the fault necessarily of the school though,” Shelton said.
With midterms around the corner and homecoming at our heels, many students feel overwhelmed as they struggle to balance everything. Others may be overwhelmed by the focus on their blackness.
“Some Black students are not itching to hear about racism. For some, it may cause more stress and anger for an hour and half,” Shelton said.