Clad in an Ole Miss cap, civil rights activist James Meredith, the first African-American granted admission to the University of Mississippi, watched his oldest granddaughter, Jasmine Meredith, graduate with a degree in public relations from the University of North Texas last weekend. As a photo from the event circulated on social media, we reached out for a Q&A with Meredith and discussed his outlook on Ole Miss – and the state of Mississippi – since his own college graduation more than 50 years ago.
HT: Why did Jasmine choose to attend the University of North Texas?
Meredith: I’m not sure exactly why she chose, but I know that her mother went to school in Texas. I do know that the school (UNT) is an extremely well-known school.
HT: What are Jasmine’s career plans?
Meredith: Well, she indicated that she’s going to stay in the area and try to get internships since she didn’t do them while she was in school. I’d imagine once she gets some work experience, she will find her career.
HT: How many children and grandchildren do you and your wife, Judy, have?
Meredith: We have five children, total. Four living. Jasmine’s father, who attended Ole Miss, has passed away since. We have 12 grandchildren, and Jasmine is the oldest.
HT: Why did you choose to wear an Ole Miss hat to the North Texas graduation?
Meredith: Have you ever you seen me in the last 50 years without an Ole Miss cap?
HT: No, sir, I certainly have not. Is that your favorite hat, the red one with the Ole Miss script?
Meredith: That one shows up louder than any other one. It depends on where I’m going. There were some Ole Miss people out there shouting “Hotty Toddy” at me, too!
HT: After all this time, how do you perceive Ole Miss?
Meredith: Mississippi is the center of the universe, in my view, and Ole Miss is providing great leadership.
HT: Can you describe what is special to you about the school?
Meredith: What could be more special than that it (Ole Miss) is leading Mississippi in the right direction?
HT: You mentioned that your son, Joseph, attended Ole Miss, and we’ve heard that you have a younger granddaughter who is interested in attending Ole Miss.
Meredith: Yes, I believe she’s been accepted. I know that she’s at least applied.
HT: Are you proud that she’d want to go to school at UM?
Meredith: Ole Miss is the best school in the nation! Why shouldn’t I be?
Meredith didn’t have much to say when we asked him about how he thinks the university has changed since he integrated the school back in the early 1960s, but he left us with this:
“Mississippi is the center of the universe. I am looking forward to doing my share of providing the leadership that the world needs.”
By Elyse Lenaburg, Social Media Editor of HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at email@example.com