Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Violent riots and a police blockade did not deter James Meredith from becoming the first African American to attend the University of Mississippi in the fall of 1962. And Gov. Ross Barnett's best efforts did not stop him from becoming the university's first black graduate the following year. Meredith was shot by a sniper during a civil rights march in 1966, but recovered. He went on to defy expectations and enrage other civil rights advocates by campaigning for Gov. Barnett, working for Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina and endorsing former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke in his run for governor of Louisiana. Today he lives in Jackson, Miss., and is developing an institute to teach black males standard English. An excerpt from The Post of Aug. 19, 1963:
James H. Meredith returned to the University of Mississippi today and became the 115-year-old institution's first Negro graduate.
It was on another Sunday -- 282 days ago -- that Meredith arrived on the oak-circled campus with its red brick buildings. That night the campus erupted with the sound of gunfire, exploding tear gas shells and the roar of a rioting mob.
The 30-year-old Meredith drove to Oxford for the graduating ceremonies from Jackson, accompanied on the 150-mile trip by his wife, Mary Jane, and their 3-year-old son.
En route, they stopped at Kosciusko, Miss., his family's home, to eat lunch and pick up his mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Moses Meredith, for the remainder of the trip.
Meredith has spent the last four days -- the period between the last day of his final exams and the graduation ceremony -- at Jackson with his wife and son. ...
Gov. Ross Barnett, who had repeatedly tried to block Meredith's enrollment and graduation, left the state early today to attend the Southern Governors' Conference at White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. ...
Dr. John A. Hunter, president of Louisiana State University, in his commencement speech to the 440 graduates made only a slight reference to the Ole Miss crisis.
"For many years, this University and LSU have enjoyed a traditional rivalry on the gridiron," Hunter said. "But let this not obscure the fact that your traditional athletic rivals have been intensely sympathetic toward you in your time of crisis.
"It is to the credit of this institution, its officials, faculty and student body, that the academic traditions of Ole Miss have been sustained," he said.
The last academic barrier to Meredith's graduation was lifted yesterday when the faculty formally granted his application for a bachelor's degree in political science.
Barnett lost a last-ditch effort to prevent his graduation.
Barnett accused Meredith of violating an Ole Miss rule against inflammatory statements in his bitter outburst after Negro leader Medgar Evers was assassinated in Jackson last June.
The State College Board, which controls all of the state's college level schools, voted against Barnett 6-5.