Thursday, September 29, 2022

University Announces Plans for 60th Anniversary of Integration

By Lisa Stone

University of Mississippi

James Meredith (center) attends a ceremony to celebrate the naming of the Martingale-Cole Student Services Center at the University of Mississippi on Sept. 10, 2021. Photo by Logan Kirkland/ Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

On Oct. 1, 1962, James Meredith became the first African American to enroll at the University of Mississippi. The events surrounding integration have been among the most significant in the institution’s history, and this year marks 60 years since Meredith became one of the heroic figures of the American civil rights movement. 

Focused on the theme of “The Mission Continues: Building Upon the Legacy,” the university’s commemoration spans more than a year. A series of events, panel discussions, lectures, exhibits and other activities are being planned for the week of Sept. 26, culminating with the anniversary of integration on Oct. 1. 

In addition, other activities and events will be held throughout the entire 2022-23 academic year. 

“Honoring the anniversary of integration reminds us of our foundational commitment as a community of scholars to educating the next generation of citizens,” Chancellor Glenn Boyce said. “Sixty years later, we continue to be inspired by the courage and persistence displayed by James Meredith in integrating our university and how each of us has the power to effect change for a better community, a better Mississippi and a better world.

“As an institution of higher education, we recognize and embrace the transformative role that education plays in advocating for and helping all members of our community to thrive.”

Events

Starting this fall, activities and events are slated throughout the entire 2022-23 academic year. Some of the highlights include:

  • Sept. 12-Oct. 13, 2022: Civil Rights in Oxford Town: The Integration of Education tours 
  • Sept. 26­-30: Week of Service, a childhood literacy project centering the four pillars of courage, opportunity, knowledge and perseverance 
  • Sept. 27: “Meredith and the Media: The Legacy of a Riot,” the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics hosts a panel of journalists to discuss how media coverage of Meredith’s enrollment and the ensuing riot has shaped perceptions of the university
  • Sept. 28: “The Mission Continues: Building Upon the Legacy,” signature event honoring Meredith and his contributions to the university 
  • Sept. 30: “Legacy Celebration,” alumni celebration of African American firsts at UM
  • Oct. 1: On-field recognition of Meredith during the Ole Miss vs. Kentucky football game
  • Oct. 2: Longest Table, an opportunity to share a meal and connect with others at a table that spans the Circle 
  • Jan. 31, 2023: Open Doors, dinner and conversations with university administrators 
  • Feb. 7, 2023: Black History Month keynote address featuring Dr. Judy Meredith 
  • Feb. 17, 2023: Black Student Union’s 10th Annual Black History Month Gala 
  • Through March 2023: UM Libraries exhibit, “Paving the Path: James Meredith and the Integration of the University of Mississippi” 
  • April 11, 2023: Celebrating Diversity Excellence, end-of-year celebration 
  • Through July 2023: UM Museum exhibit “The Fall of 1962,” collected artifacts and stories of the Ole Miss riot 
  • Speaker Series: A series of interactive dialogues and conversations throughout the academic year

Most events are free and open to the public. To reserve your complimentary ticket for the signature event on Sept. 28, contact umbo@olemiss.edu or 662-915-7411. 

Letter Writing Campaign

The university’s Associated Student Body, Black Student Union and Graduate Student Council are leading an effort called “Letters to Mr. Meredith” to allow members of the campus community to express their gratitude to Meredith and share reflections and words of appreciation. Letters can be submitted via this form. Letters will be accepted on an ongoing basis, but are encouraged to be submitted by Sept. 12. 

Additionally, individuals are encouraged to submit how their story at the university has been shaped or impacted by the courageous actions of Meredith. 

Commemorative Book

“James Meredith: Breaking the Barrier” is an illustrated collection of essays being published to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Meredith’s historic 1962 enrollment at the university. 

Providing a unique combination of viewpoints, 10 former university students, journalists, historians and eyewitnesses tell the story of Meredith’s turbulent but successful path to become the state’s first African American to graduate from its flagship university. 

The 160-page paperback book includes more than 50 photos and will be available for purchase for $15 at the campus bookstore, the Overby program on Sept. 27 and the signature event on Sept. 28.

Walking Tour Map

The university has created a self-directed walking tour that provides a guide to the campus locations where pivotal events related to integration occurred. Additionally, the walking tour can be accessed electronically on https://map.olemiss.edu and clicking “Tours.”

Shawnboda Mead, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement, has served as chair of the planning committee over the yearlong commemoration.

“The courageous actions by James Meredith in 1962 stand among the most profoundly meaningful events in our university’s history, and it is truly an honor to work with the Merediths, the planning committee and other campus stakeholders in commemorating the 60th anniversary,” Mead said. “I’m particularly grateful for the energy and commitment of the numerous members of the planning committee who have worked so diligently to elevate this historic time for our campus and community. 

“We want everyone to be a part of this significant time for our university.”

Throughout the 2022-23 academic year, the university will share news stories about the numerous events and commemorations. For a complete list of events and other details about the anniversary of integration, including Meredith’s story, a timeline, a photo gallery and video interviews, visit https://60years.olemiss.edu/.


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