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Meredith Documentary Being Shown During UM’s 60th Integration Anniversary

James Meredith graduates. Photo provided by UM archives

For more than a decade, documentarian Clay Haskell filmed James Meredith, interviewed him about his life’s work and captured him walking the streets of Jackson preaching his message about the value of education.

The result is a 71-minute documentary, ‘Mississippi Messiah,’ scheduled to be shown at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 20 at Fulton Chapel.

The screening is part of the university’s 60th-anniversary programming related to Meredith’s integration of the university in 1962.

The documentary provides a nuanced portrait of Meredith from his role in integrating the university, his public career and his ongoing efforts in supporting education. 

The documentary was previously shown at the Oxford Film Festival, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, the Arizona International Film Festival and other venues on the festival circuit.

Kathleen Wickham, professor of journalism in the School of Journalism and News Media, said she proposed offering the documentary to the public as part of the commemorative programming because it provides viewers with historical information as well as context for Meredith’s professional choices after graduation in 1963.

“Haskell portrays Meredith as a visionary walking the walk, not just talking the talk. From that angle viewers can begin to understand Meredith’s life-long quest and what it means to society,” Wickham said. “Meredith emerges from the documentary not as a one-dimensional figure who brought the state to its knees, but that of a man who lived a life viewing the state from afar seeking to make it a better place for all its citizens.”

Staff report

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