Friday, December 4, 2020

Exclusive: James Meredith Shares Most Important Opinion Piece He Has Ever Written

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following text was submitted to HottyToddy.com by James Meredith, the first black student to enroll in the University of Mississippi in 1962. Mr. Meredith lives in Jackson, Mississippi with his wife, Judy, and he continues to be active in civil rights.

James Meredith and John Doar leaving first class.

In recognition of the last day of Black History Month, we are sharing Mr. Meredith’s text in its entirety with our readers. Mr. Meredith, as you will see, also shared this document with the Head of Special Collections of the J.D. Williams Library on the University of Mississippi campus, asking her to add it to his collection.
The first portion of what you read below is his letter to Jennifer, outlining 14 other events which he considers important in his life. That letter is followed by his text, entitled: THE POLICY HISTORY OF COLORED PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES SINCE THE EUROPEAN DISCOVERY OF AMERICA.


TO: Jennifer Ford, Head of Special Collections, JD Williams Library, University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677
Copy to: Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter; Dr. Donald Cole; Dr. David Sansing; Governor William Winter
SUBJECT: The Policy History of Colored People In The United States Since The European Discovery Of America, By James Meredith – 26 Oct 2016
DATE: 1 November 2016
Dear Ms. Ford:
This is the most important opinion I have ever written. Please add it to my collection.
Below are some other events I consider very important in my life:
#1. Born non-white in Mississippi in 1933.
#2. My father was the only black to remain a registered voter in Attala County from the 1920s until his death in 1965.
#3. My Mother’s Father was the largest land owner (black) in Attala County from the 1890s to the 1930s.
#4. My Father’s Mother’s Father was JAP Campbell. He was Speaker of the Mississippi House in 1861 and led the delegation to secede from the Union and was elected President pro tempore of the Provisional Confederate Congress. He served as the top legal officer for the Confederate Army. After the Civil War he led the Mississippi Colonels who overthrew the Reconstruction government in 1875 and ran the Union Army out of MS. He was the longest serving Supreme Court Justice in history, 1876 to 1894. He wrote the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 establishing the legal and official system of White Supremacy and Black Inferiority. He mostly raised my father.
#5. I served nine years in the desegregating military. I was the first Black assigned to the all- white unit and remained the only Black most of the time.
#6. Attended all-Black Jackson State College 1960-62.
#7. Graduated from formerly all-White Ole Miss in 1963.
#8. Received post Graduate degree from Ibadan University, Nigeria, Africa – 1965
#9. Conducted James Meredith March Against Fear – 1966
#10. Law Degree from Columbia University, New York City – 1968
#11. Stock Broker, Merrill Lynch, Wall Street Office – 1969
#12. Policy Advisor to Senator Jesse Helms – 1989-91
#13. Donated personal papers to Ole Miss – 1997
#14. United States Senate passed a resolution “Recognizing the Historical Significance and the 50th Anniversary of the James Meredith March Against Fear, a 220-mile walk down Highway 51 from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi.” Congressional Record Vol 162, No. 92, 10 June 2016.
Sincerely,
James Meredith


 

Courtesy of Ole Miss News.

THE POLICY HISTORY OF COLORED PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES
SINCE THE EUROPEAN DISCOVERY OF AMERICA
By James Meredith
26 October 2016

Mississippi is the Center of the Black/White – Rich/Poor Universe
Slavery existed as long as mankind. However, black slavery as a peculiar form began with and developed alongside the European discovery of America in 1492. The legal and official form of black slavery was ended by the Civil War in 1865, but the consequences of the legacy are still with us.
Only three years after the ownership of another human being was made illegal by the Constitution of the United States, another Amendment was added to the Constitution making the former black slaves citizens. However, not full citizens. The powers that be have established several positions of citizenship for the former slaves, all of which have run their course. The time has come for a new policy on the Black-White Race Issue.
The present Second Class Citizen status which was established for the Black Race in the closing years of the 19th century was patterned after the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire lasted over 800 years. Its longevity was due to the fact that it permitted all non-Romans subjects that it needed to become citizens of Rome. (It ultimately declined and fell because it would never allow all non-Romans to become full citizens with all rights and privileges.) The Civil War ended slavery. However it did not settle the question of the status of the Black Race. In fact, the ending of slavery did not affect the Black Race legally and officially at all. The 13th Amendment only said that people who owned slaves could no longer do so legally. It granted no rights or privileges to the former black slaves. The American black slaves were the first and only slaves to be freed and not given land or means of survival. They were simply labeled “contraband “. In 1868, the 14th Amendment made them undefined citizens. In 1870, another Amendment – 15th -further muddied the waters by providing the Black Race with “Due Process” and an unclear right to vote. The only thing clear about the status of the former black slaves was the fact that they were not to enjoy the same rights and privileges of the white European.
From 1870 to 1890, many degrees of citizenship were debated from taking it away completely to a limited form. A limited form of citizenship was formalized by the Mississippi Constitution of 1890, which was reviewed and accepted by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Mississippi Constitution of 1890 was used as a pattern for other Southern states. Ultimately, this document became the de facto Black Race Policy of every state in the Union and in 1948, was the Blue Print used by South Africa when it established Apartheid as its policy for Black Africans. The Constitution of 1890 is still the law of the land in Mississippi, making it the second oldest Constitution in the world.
American Slavery before Cotton and The Industrial Revolution 1492- 1792.
Columbus’ Commission from the Monarchs of Spain was to “Find new lands, claim them for Spain and enslave the people”. All people captured in war were considered slaves without rights. The other form of slavery was referred to as indentured slavery. Indentured slavery was limited for a specific period of time and indentured slaves retained some rights. Most slaves in North America before 1700 were white. As late as 1861, more than ten percent of all slaves in South Carolina were white.
From 1700 to 1800 most slaves in Mississippi were Native American “Indians”. This is little known because it was politically incorrect to enslave Native Americans. The American practice of enslaving Indians resulted in powerful criticism from Europeans.
When America was discovered by the Europeans, England was an old Monarchy based on landed gentry. The English model of Kingship was the Bible, like all other European nations. The Catholic segment of Christian belief was dominant, although dissension had long been developing in the world of Christianity. The beginning of the Protestant Reform, led by Germany (Martin Luther), coincided with the scientific discoveries of sea navigation, ship building and weapons of war. Spain led the world in all three categories enabling it to control the New World for 200 years. This placed Spain in the position to accumulated most of the wealth that Native Americans had already mined and stored before the Americas were discovered by the Europeans.
England was the biggest adversary of Catholic Spain. In 1588, Spain sent the Spanish Armada to England to destroy English shipping facilities. The English won the battle and won control of the Seas in less than 100 years. The real power struggle since the discovery of America by Europe was between the Catholics and the Protestants. The Protestants had moved their leadership to North America by the middle of the 17th century and dominated the take-over of the land from the Indians and its development under the British Flag. By the middle of the 18th century France had taken control of the Catholic Church from the weakening Spanish. The American Protestants, still fighting under the British Flag, defeated the Catholics in what was called the French and Indian War in 1763. The French and Indian War was in fact the last battle of the 30 year war of the Protestants against the Catholics.
The Protestant victors in North America were now in the position to break free from the English Monarchy and establish their own government which had been the focus of philosophers and thinkers since Greece and Rome. Projected as a new form of governing while it was in fact as old as mankind – The Biblical Guide.
In 1775, under the guidance of General George Washington, the wisest and most successful military person in known history, conducted a war for Independence from Monarchy. He won the war in short order because the British did not have much need for these colonies. England had toyed for years with Protestantism and was in fact more Protestant than Catholic. England had already published the Protestant Bible – The King James version – The most important political document ever published.
In 1776, The North American English speaking colonies reverted from Monarchy back to the Biblical Tribal system of government. This was short lived because they could not compete on an international level. In 1787, the Tribal government quickly established the Biblical Judges system.
Back to the need for a new policy on the Black Race Issue.
A Brief History of Events and Slave Owner Thinking 1776 to 1806.
The French Revolution lasted from 1789-1799, followed by Napoleon taking power. The American Constitution was adopted in 1787, greatly influenced by French thinkers, enhanced the debate regarding the issue of Freedom for all white men. The Black Race compromise, settled on by the Constitution, put on hold the international discussion about the status of the Black Race. The Black Race was declared human but still property.
In 1791, two years after the start of the French Revolution, the slaves in Haiti rebelled and killed a large number of white French slave-owners. This event changed the whole conversation. Send them back to Africa? Replace them with the white trash of Europe? This debate was short-lived. England and Western Europe were in the middle of the developing Industrial Revolution which required a raw material – cotton. The poor whites from Europe either could not do or would not do the work required to produce cotton. Two years later, 1793, the cotton gin was invented that could separate the cotton fiber from the cotton seed. However, the cotton had to still be planted and picked before it could be ginned.
The Black Race was needed again to plant and pick the cotton. The back to Africa movement was quickly suspended. Napoleon conquered all of Europe, put down the French Revolution and sent an army to the Americas to put down the rebellion in Haiti. Napoleon failed to defeat the slaves in Haiti and the international world of white slave owners decided to isolate Black Haiti and punish it for the rest of times. This punishment of Haiti was an example of what would be done to any Black who failed to obey the rules of their status.
The new policy of Europe was to make “subjects” instead of slaves out of their black workforce. England required the United States to insert the clause in the Constitution that “no slaves could be shipped from Africa to the United States after 1808. England used their control of the seas to enforce this rule. The new subjects in Africa were required to pay a head tax to the European government which had to be earned by working for the Europeans – called Forced labor. In 1831, Nat Turner’s rebellion in Virginia shocked the world when black slaves rebelled and killed their owners. Cotton now dominated world economy and Mississippi dominated cotton. The Black Race was considered essential to cotton production.
Adam Smith’s theory of capitalism dominated economic thought in the United States. The concentration of money was in Boston and moving quickly to New York and Wall Street. Ever since the discovery of America by Europe, the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church held opposite positions on Christianity for Black slaves. In 1493, the Pope issued a Papal Bull requiring that every Black slave brought to America had to be baptized before they could be taken off the ship and sold. The Protestant leadership had problems with Christians owning other Christians and decided that their Black slaves could not be converted to Christianity. After the Turner rebellion, the Protestant leadership decided that it would be easier to control their Black workforce if they were Christianized with strict rules. Black slaves could be taught “Salvation” and “Other worldliness,” but they could not be allowed to deal with anything political, economic or social. To ensure these requirements were enforced all Black religious gatherings or any other gathering of Blacks, must be attended by two or more responsible whites.
The Mississippi Plantation and the Wall Street Capitalist joined forces to keep the Black Race in the cotton field for 100 years (1840 to 1940). The most important man in creating this policy to keep the Black race tied to the cotton field was Frederick Barnard. He was the last President of Ole Miss and the first Chancellor of Ole Miss, serving until the start of the Civil War in 1861. He was the only man in History to be offered a cabinet level position by Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate government, which he declined, and a cabinet-level position by President Abraham Lincoln, which he accepted until he became President of Columbia University in 1864, where he served for 25 years until 1889.
Chancellor Barnard was a first generation Aristocrat, born and raised in Massachusetts and schooled in the Ivy League. Barnard relocated to Alabama, where for two decades he was the most influential educational and political person in Alabama before moving to Mississippi. His first major move after being selected President of Ole Miss was to change the title from President to Chancellor. Barnard’s next move was to maneuver Ole Miss onto a favorable financial tract that gave it financial preference on funding for over the next 100 years.
Before coming to Mississippi, Chancellor Barnard had clearly established himself as a Union man. Once in Mississippi, he established himself as a solid supporter of Black slavery. Cotton was King by 1860 and Mississippi was Queen. No person in the world knew this better than Chancellor Barnard. After the Civil War ended, the need for cotton fiber was even greater than before the war. How to keep the Blacks in the cotton field now, that they are free. Frederick Barnard, former Ole Miss Chancellor and now President of Columbia University (located down the street from Wall Street -the new master of Capitalism), quietly effected a workable policy. This policy was called White Supremacy in Mississippi and the “White Man’s Burden” in England. Legal rules and private restrictions were established all over the United States designed to keep the Black Race both in the South and in its place – officially called segregation. The legal rules “de jure” were relatively straightforward and simple, but the “de facto” rules for the North were more complex and required the Ivy League touch. President Barnard guided Wall Street in getting the North to effectuate local restrictive and exclusion laws designed to keep the blacks from coming into their territory, forcing them to remain in the cotton fields.
Chancellor Barnard’s greatest accomplishment for Mississippi occurred a year after his death, the 1890 Constitution. It did two main things. #1. It shifted the enforcement of white supremacy from the individual to the state; and #2. It established all effective political power at the local level. The Mississippi 1890 Constitution established Second Class as the Policy for the Black Race.
Since the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 was created and approved by the Supreme Court of the United States, Second Class status would be all the Black Race would enjoy. The enforcement of black policy was a local matter until WWII. The first significant discussion at the national level occurred in the 1930s, when President Franklin Roosevelt established a commission to make recommendations on how to deal with enemies within the United States in the event the United States entered WWII. The Commission recommended that the Japanese be interned, the Germans and Italians be watched, and the Black Race be allowed to enjoy gradually more rights. These rights were:
#1. Creation of 2 black congressional districts.
#2. Appointment of 1 black grade 13 civil servant to the Pentagon.
#3. One black promoted to general.
#4. Blacks would be allowed to serve in the military, in segregated units.
This was done in 1942.
In 1948, President Truman asked the military to make plans to desegregate. This was the first major policy made since second class citizen status was granted to Blacks following the Civil War. The Cold War against Communism caused the United States to consider other changes. The international pressure was growing from all quarters by 1952. Senator Eastland and Congressman John Bell Williams of Mississippi made weekly speeches on keeping segregation the law of the land. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation in public education was wrong, however, it further ruled that changes could occur “with all deliberate speed” which meant “never”. 60 years later, every study shows that there is more segregation today than there was in 1954. In 1961 England and Western European nations decided to grant its colonial nations freedom including Black African nations. What to do with Black African diplomats in America’s segregation policy for blacks? Treat them like diplomats. This didn’t set too well with the growing Black elite. More upgrading had to be done with the Second Class.
Dr. King’s protest movement by 1963 could no longer be swept under the rug. In 1964, the United States Congress passed the Civil Rights Bill designed to further upgrade Second Class citizenship for Blacks. Nothing much changed. Even though there was a Voting Clause in the 1964 Civil Rights Bill, in Mississippi 8,000 blacks were on the voting rolls in 1963, only 6,000 were on the rolls in 1965. President Lyndon Johnson called Senator James Eastland of Mississippi and they got their heads together and decided to give the blacks the vote.
Senator Eastland was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and could have killed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in Committee, however, he never held a Committee meeting. Senator Eastland let the bill go straight to the Senate floor for a vote and passed overwhelmingly. Something else most people don’t know about Senator Eastland, after he retired from the Senate, he was the biggest contributor to the Mississippi NAACP for a number of years.
In 1968, President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the most important civil rights legislation in history. It was sold as a Black rights bill. The truth is, that it was, in effect the most important white women’s rights bill ever enacted. An aside aspect of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was the decision by powers that be to upgrade the black elite to real middle class status. That is, of course, a good thing. However, there was one side impact that is very much in need of attention. Until the 1968 Civil Rights Bill became law, blacks who were fortunate enough to move up the chain, remained in the same communities as other blacks, therefore, all blacks benefited from their good fortune. For the last 45 years, the Black elite who were able to benefit from new opportunities, have been cut off completely from all other blacks who are now left in the ghetto, alone and helpless.
Mississippi is the place, where a New Policy on the Black Race Issue can be developed, that will work.
The New Black Policy:
#1. Teach the Black Race Good and Right.
#2. Make the Black male useful again. Teach the Black Male how to work with his hands.
#3. Allow the Black Man to become a functional part of the Black Family.
My Mississippi is everywhere.
James Meredith

These photos were taken by Ed Meek in 1962, and now belong to The Ed Meek and The Meek School of Journalism and New Media Collection of the University of Mississippi Libraries Digital Collections


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