In 1962, James Meredith became the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi after a great deal of opposition and violence, officially desegregating the university. Meredith would go on to graduate from Ole Miss with a degree in political science, and despite the violence, this moment is recognized as one of the most significant in the Civil Rights Movement. Last week, Ole Miss celebrated the 50th anniversary of Meredith's enrollment, but the 79-year-old wanted nothing to do with the celebration.
Here's what Meredith had to say about the celebration:
"I ain't never heard of the Germans celebrating the invasion of Normandy, or the bombing and destruction of Berlin. I ain't never heard of the Spanish celebrating the destruction of the Armada."
Asked to clarify, Meredith said: "Did you find anything 50 years ago that I should be celebrating?"
Meredith also thinks that the Civil Rights Monument erected on Ole Miss's campus and built in his likeness back in 2006 is "hideous" and thinks it should be destroyed. Meredith told the Associated Press that it "glosses over the magnitude of Mississippi's resistance to his exercise of what should have been recognized as an obvious human right." He says that he was "humiliated" by Mississippi, and the fight to keep him out of Ole Miss was never recognized, so why would he want to be a part of the celebration?
Before you dismiss him as a bitter and ungrateful old man, keep in mind what he experienced.