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Attorney Donates Letters from Kennedys to Library

U.S. Marshal Ernest S. Mike was injured in 1962 Ole Miss riot

George Ready (left) and William Ready show two letters being donated to the University of Mississippi's John D. Williams Library to Andy Mullins, chief of staff to the chancellor. Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Communications
George Ready (left) and William Ready show two letters being donated to the University of Mississippi’s John D. Williams Library to Andy Mullins, chief of staff to the chancellor. Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Communications

Fifty-one years ago, President John F. Kennedy and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy wrote letters of appreciation to U.S. Marshal Ernst S. Mike after the riot at the University of Mississippi that was sparked by the institution’s integration in 1962.

“The courage and dedication which you demonstrated while in great personal danger prevented a serious and tragic incident from becoming a disaster for our country,” President Kennedy wrote. “Had you failed, our country would have suffered irreparable damage.”

Attorney George Ready of Hernando recently donated the two letters to UM’s Archives and Special Collections. He acquired the letters at an auction and donated them to the university to commemorate his father, William Ready, one of the few white civil rights attorneys in Mississippi during the 1960s.

“I specifically purchased them with the idea of donating them to the University of Mississippi in honor of my father, who for 60 years gave himself so tirelessly to civil rights for all people in Mississippi,” Ready said.

“The William E. Ready Collection is a wonderful addition to our holdings on the integration of the University of Mississippi, adding another layer of history that enriches our ability to share the story with the public,” said Leigh McWhite, political papers archivist and associate professor. “The archives will place the two letters, as well as a newspaper article from U.S. Marshal Mike’s hometown in Tennessee, in a digital collection to increase their accessibility.”

Andrew P. Mullins Jr., chief of staff for the chancellor, agreed the letters are a valuable addition to the library.

“With the contribution of George’s letters, our political archives continue to grow,” Mullins said. “We especially welcome the rich civil rights his donations bring.”

A Meridian resident, William Ready fought to integrate Mississippi schools and represented the Loyalist Democrats who sought to integrate the traditionally segregated Democratic Party in Mississippi. — Edwin Smith, Ole Miss News Desk

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