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Dan Rather Remembers His Career Starting Story at Ole Miss


Dan Rather, a retired CBS anchor, remembers his days as a correspondent at the 1962 riot at The University of Mississippi and the work of Dr. Ed Meek, former vice chancellor of public relations at UM and the Meek School of Journalism and New Media namesake.

James Meredith, the first African-American to enroll at Ole Miss, was starting his first semester at the university when riots broke out in protest of the matter. Among the reporters was then student, Ed Meek, and he photographed the entire thing and recently wrote the book “RIOT: A Witness to Anger and Change” to show his photos of Ole Miss during that time.

“I heard the hiss of a bottle sailing over my head and saw it strike a marshal’s helmet. When I turned to see who had thrown the bottle, I did not recognize a single face. The crowd had become a mob of strangers. Suddenly a man snatched a reporter’s camera and smashed it on the ground. Photographers began warning each other, ‘Shoot and run!’ When people noticed me taking pictures, someone said, ‘It’s okay. He’s from Ole Miss!’ ” (Edwin E, Meek, Foreword)

The riots drew national attention and Rather, a correspondent for CBS at the time, traveled to the Ole Miss campus to report the news to the rest of the nation.

Dan Rather reported from the Ole Miss campus in 1962 about the riots that took place on campus. Photo: Ole Miss Library and Dr. Ed Meek
Dan Rather reported from the Ole Miss campus in 1962 about the riots that took place on campus. Photo: J. D. Williams Library and Dr. Ed Meek’s book “RIOT.”

According to Meek, who took the picture above of Rather’s first big news story, the riot coverage created careers for Rather and another well-known reporter from The New York Times, Jack Nelson. Meek’s book includes never before seen photos of the riot that broke out at Ole Miss and Meredith in classrooms by himself.

Emily Newton is a staff reporter for hottytoddy.com and the editor of Experience Oxford magazine. She can be reached at emily.newton@hottytoddy.com.

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