"I anticipate encountering some type of difficulty..."

by teejay 0 Replies latest jw friends

  • teejay

    James Meredith was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, on 25th June, 1933.
    While attending Jackson State College (1960-62) Meredith attempted to become
    the first African American to gain admission to the University of Mississippi.
    This is the letter he wrote to the U.S. Justice Department on February 7, 1961

    It is with much regret that I present this information to you concerning
    myself. Whenever I attempt to reason logically about this matter, it grieves
    me deeply to realize that an individual, especially an American, the citizen
    of a free democratic nation, has to clamor with such procedures in order to
    try to gain just a small amount of his civil and human rights, and even after
    suffering embarrassments and personal humiliation of this procedures, there
    still seems little hope of success. To be in an oppressed situation is not in
    itself very difficult, but to be in it and realize its unfairness, and then to
    have one's conscious compel him to try to correct the situation is indeed
    antagonizing and often miserable.

    Before I go to far, I want to state my immediate situation. I have applied for
    admission to the University of Mississippi. I have not been accepted and I
    have not been rejected. Delaying tactics are presently being used by the
    state. This is the important fact and the reason I am writing (one major
    reason) to you. Other Negro citizens have attempted to exercise their rights
    of citizenship in the past, but during the period of delay, that is, in between
    the time the action is initiated and the would be time of attainment of goal,
    the agencies of the state eliminate the protestant. I do not have any desire to
    be eliminated.

    Why do I fee that you will or should be concerned about me? I have no great
    desire to protect my hyde, but I do hope to see the day when the million
    Negroes that live in the state of Mississippi will have cause not to fear as
    they fear today. High ranking officials of this state, including the Lieutenant
    Governor during the absence of the Governor on his south American trip,
    have made public statements saying that the law enforcement agencies of
    this state will not be use to enforce laws as proclaimed by the federal court.
    I have no reason to believe that they will protect citizens that seek to bring
    about such decisions, in fact, I believe that if they are used at all it will be
    to intimidate such citizens.

    America is a great nation. It has led the world in freedom for a long time. I
    feel that we can and we must continue to lead in this respect. However, I
    feel that a greater use should be made of the Negro potential. In my state,
    this is generally impossible under the present set-up. A Negro born in
    Mississippi can write himself off of the potential list of all of the
    professions, except teaching and preaching, such as it is, nearly all of the
    technical fields or trades and off of the Commissioned Officers roll.

    Instead of restrictions being lifted, they are being more tightly controlled. I
    feel that this is not in the best interest of our country and certainly not in the
    best interest of the Negro people. Presently, much is being said by the radio
    and press about "a negro" wanting to go to the University of Mississippi.
    Much is being made of prior attempts by Negroes to go to "All White"
    Mississippi schools. They elaborate on the fate of these individuals, for
    instance the latest one to try is now serving a seven (7) year prison term on
    alleged cropped-up charges subsequent to his attempt to go to school. If this
    is to be the normal fate of an individual who seeks to exercise his rights of
    citizenship, then I certainly feel that this is and undesirable situation.

    My background. I was born on a small farm in Attala county, Mississippi, the
    seventh of thirteen children. I walked to school, over four miles each way,
    everyday for eleven years. Through-out those years, the White school bus
    passed us each and every morning. Of course, there was no Negro school
    bus. I never had a teacher during grade and High school with a college
    degree. Sounds sad, doesn't it? Well, it is not. I was indeed fortunate,
    because each day I passed by one of the largest farms in the county, and
    there I saw boys my own age and younger that fed cows all day and to this
    day most of them can't even read road signs. I have never known that I
    could help solve this situation, but I have always felt that I must do my best.

    During my last year of high school, which was spent in Florida, I entered an
    essay contest, sponsored by the American Legion, of which I was winner
    along with two White girls. The title of the essay was "Why I am Proud to
    be an American." My theme was that I was not proud because I was born
    with as many or more of the desirable things of life as the next man, but
    because in my country an individual has the opportunity to grown and
    develop according to his edibility and ingenuity, and is not restricted from
    progress solely on the basis of his Race. Basically, I still believe in this

    I spent nine (9) years in the united states Air Force. All of this time was in
    the so called "integrated" service and I feel that I can safely say that there is
    no logical reasons to justify denying a law abiding citizen the rights of full
    citizenship solely on the basis of Race.

    What do I want from you? I feel that the power and influence of the federal
    government should be used where necessary to insure compliance with the
    laws as interpreted by the proper authority. I feel that the federal
    government can do more in this area if they choose and I feel that they
    should choose.

    In view of the above (incomplete) information I simply ask that the federal
    agencies use the power and prestige of their positions to insure the full rights
    of citizenship for our people.

    J H Meredith

    * http://www.cs.umb.edu/jfklibrary/meredith/jm.html

Share this