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Ole Miss Riot Forever Immortal in ‘RIOT: Witness to Anger and Change’

Photo by Ed Meek, property of The University of Mississippi
Photo by Ed Meek, property of The University of Mississippi

September 30, 1962, was a night that forever changed The University of Mississippi as thousands rioted on campus protesting James Meredith’s enrollment. Ed Meek, then a 22-year old student working as a photographer for the university, snapped more than 500 pictures of the riot.

Those pictures live on in  RIOT: Witness to Anger and Change, published jointly by Yoknapatawpha Press and the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi. The book launch and signing is tomorrow night at 5 p.m. at Off Square Books. The Overby Center at University of Mississippi will host a book reception and signing on September 30.

"RIOT" contributors, l-r: Curtis Wilkie (Inro.), Gov. William Winter (Afterword), Edwin Meek (photography/Foreword)
“RIOT” contributors, l-r: Curtis Wilkie (Inro.), Gov. William Winter (Afterword), Edwin Meek (photography/Foreword)

Curtis Wilkie, Overby fellow, writes in the book’s introduction: “Ed Meek’s photographs serve as a valuable reminder of where we were and how far we have come.”

Photo by Ed Meek, property of The University of Mississippi
Photo by Ed Meek, property of The University of Mississippi

Ed Meek is the only photographer with a full body of work spanning the integration at the University of Mississippi: before, during and after the event. As the mob smashed newsmen’s cameras during the riot, Meek was spared because someone recognized him as a photographer for the university.

He said in the book’s foreword: “It is my hope that the images in this book will serve to enlighten a new generation and to show what the admission of James Meredith meant to Mississippi, the nation, and to me personally.”

Photo by Ed Meek, property by The University of Mississippi
Photo by Ed Meek, property by The University of Mississippi

William Winter, former Mississippi governor, wrote the book’s afterword. In it he said, “I have always believed that Mississippi has much to teach the rest of the country about race relations. Having been the state where extreme battles over integration were fought, we can now appreciate more fully the progress we have made.”

Morgan Freeman joined Pat Conroy, Dan Rather and William Doyle in their praises of the book. He said, “Meek’s album is a sobering reminder of not so long ago….well written, with poignant photography, an important book that documents the last gasps of segregation at the University of Mississippi.”

All proceeds from the book go to Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

Riot-front cover-lr (1)


Callie Daniels Bryant is the senior managing editor at HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.

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