‘open doors to the future’

Posted on Oct 3 2012 - 11:32am by Lacey Russell

Musician and Civil Rights Activist Harry Belafonte, Chan- cellor Dan Jones and Associated Student Body president Kimbrely Dandridge led a walk to commemorate the anniversary of James Meredith’s first day as a student at The University of Mississippi. The walk began at Baxter Hall, where Meredith lived while on campus, and ended at the Lyceum steps. Facing the statue of Meredith, Jones addressed those celebrat- ing the occasion. “The reality of our history is difficult, and we express deep regret that the things that happened here 50 years ago hap- pened to Mr. Meredith, even though he is not present today,” Jones said. “We say to him, to his family, to anyone who shares that heart, we say we re- gret the past and we apologize for the way things were and we apologize that this was such adifficult place for people to find opportunity. “And, as we offer that apolo- gy, we also re-commit ourselves to open doors to the future,” Jones added. The chancellor continued to express the appreciation, admiration and respect he and those in attendance held for Meredith. “Fifty years ago today, a courageous American, Mr. James Meredith, sacrificed, risked his life, so that we could all live in a world with more opportunity,” Jones said. “Today we commemorate the sad events that took place on September 30, where two lives were given and many were injured in violence that should not have taken place, and we celebrate 50 years of integration for this university and the wonderful way that it has changed this university for the better. “His courageous act not only changed this university, but was a bellwether event in changing doors of opportunity in edu- cation across the country and particularly here in the south where the resistance had been so strong,” Jones said. Jones and Belafonte, who was the keynote speaker for the eve- ning, contacted Meredith from the Lyceum to wish him well and express regret at his ab- sence. Although James Meredith was on campus for the Texas football game, Meredith told The Associated Press on Monday that he did not see a point in being present for the university’s celebration of 50 years of integration. “I ain’t never heard of the French celebrating Waterloo,” Meredith told The AP. “I ain’t never heard of the Germans celebrating the invasion of Normandy, or … the bombing and destruction of Berlin. I ain’t never heard of the Spanish celebrating the destruction of the Armada.” When asked by The AP to clarify, Meredith responded, “Did you find anything 50 years ago that I should be celebrating?” Those on campus, however, have continued to enjoy the events and commemorate the past. “The whole day has been great,” public policy senior Keegan Coleman said. “This walk is symbolic in the fact that 50 years ago, as diverse a group as is out here would not have been possible.”