James Meredith, a 28-year-old married veteran of the Air Force, had studied for two years at Jackson State University. But Meredith wanted a better legal education than the HBCU could offer, and he wanted to get it at Ole Miss.
Armed with a court order, and escorted by federal marshals, Meredith tried to enter the university on Thursday, September. 20th. He was blocked by mobs and Mississippi Lt Governor Paul Johnson, defying the high court’s ruling.
For 16 months, James Meredith’s case was fought in the courts. Brown v. the Board of Education had come more than 8 years earlier, forbidding “separate but equal” public schools, NO university in the South–the great bastion of segregation–had yet integrated.
After twice being denied admission, with advice from the NAACP, Meredith took his case all the way to the Supreme Court, where he was finally granted the right to attend the all-white university.