The JFP Interview with James Meredith
by Donna Ladd and Adam Lynch
September 24, 2008
Dressed in a three-piece off-white suit, fit for a Sunday afternoon
church dinner, James Meredith was standing on the side of Meadowbrook
Drive, waving us down. He was afraid that we would drive by his
house. Certainly, drivers pass the aging North Jackson home, with its
slightly unkempt shrubs, every day without knowing, or considering,
that a legend lives inside its walls.
As we jump out of the car to hake his hand, Meredith pays little mind
to the mosquito hovering around his balding head. The old soldier has
dealt with far more dangerous pests.
Meredith was born in 1930s Kosciusko, the very center of the state of
Mississippi (and the birthplace of Oprah Winfrey), during the height
of the Jim Crow Era. This was the time when many scholars claim the
state's white majority was not satisfied with merely subjugating
blacks, but was determined to push them out of the state, decreasing
their population by imposing one miserable hardship after another.
The most prominent of the generation of black military veterans who
came back home to the South, tired of racial oppression, the U.S. Air
Force enlistee would make a stand against white supremacy in 1962,
becoming the first black to attend the University of Mississippi. The
school, of course, was considered the pinnacle of white endowment,
and with a pride of its own making. The university, at that time,
proudly upheld its racist traditionsfrom its name (the "ole miss"
was what slaves called the plantation owner's wife), to its
Confederate soldier mascots (plantation owner "Colonel Reb") and
symbol (the Confederate battle flag) to its violent defiance of integration.
Then-Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett symbolized the state government's
opposition to Meredith's aim. His appearance on the Oxford campus set
off violent protests, which could only be suppressed by federal
troops, as angry Mississippians and visitors stood up for an old way
of life, while other students hid in the dorms and frat houses.
Barnett got a $10,000 fine and a contempt charge, though the federal
government came out worse for wear: About 30 marshals and almost 50
soldiers suffered injuries from the raging crowd, and two people were killed.
Still, Meredith braved the violence and marched onto campus, where he
attended classes for two semesters and made a statement that would
endure for decades. Meredith's son, Joseph Meredith, graduated from
the same college with a doctorate in business administration in 2002.
Often seen around his adopted home of Jackson wearing an Ole Miss
cap, Meredith remains a controversial figure in American politics.
Despite his "war" on white supremacy, which he calls the stance he
took, he considers the Civil Rights Movement to be flawed, arguing
that the movement demanded that the dominant race condescend to
granting black people their rights. Highly suspicious of government
generosity for most of his life, Meredith has made a point of
criticizing many social institutions, including welfare, believing
the programs to be hand-outs that effectively keep black Americans
dependent upon the system.
We sat down to interview Meredith in his small home office one week
before the nation's first black presidential nominee participates in
a debate at Ole Miss on Sept. 2646 years to the day since Lt. Gov.
Paul Johnson turned back Meredith for entering Ole Miss the third
time before the federal government helped him enroll on Oct. 1.
The office is messy in that way that work spaces of people with busy
minds tends to be. Papers, books, boxes and assorted odds and ends
litter the little room where he typed up his "rules for journalists"
at an old electric typewriter (for example: reporters can't call him
"African American," and they must say "Southern Baptist," which is a
negative phrase to him, in every article. The rules, he emphasized,
do not apply to the Jackson Free Press, though).
During the interview, the unpredictable prophet for change challenged
power structures that allow easy divisions and stereotypes about both
races that, he says, lets the wrong people off the hook and does not
get at the heart of white supremacyand how to defeat it.
But, first, sitting under a huge American flag above his
gray-and-white striped sofa, he talked about a conversation he
recently had with another legend of Mississippi, long-time newsman
Bill Minor, who covered the 1962 Ole Miss riot for the New Orleans
Times-Picayune, and who today lives near Meredith in North Jackson.
I want to say something. The day before yesterday, I visited Bill
Minor to bring him up to date. He's the first news person to
interview me. He figured me out right away, but then he backed off on it.
JFP: He backed off on his opinion of you?
Not his opinion. His observation. (Minor wrote, according to
Meredith:) "After an hour or more of talking with Meredith back in
1961, I was convinced he was in the least, extremely naive, beset
with a messianic complex. He insisted he was not on a messianic
mission; simply trying to fulfill his lifelong ambition to graduate
from Ole Miss, the state's most prestigious institution."
(Minor continued, per Meredith:) "41 years ago when I first met James
Meredith, I thought he was crazy to believe he would be admitted as
the first black student at the University of Mississippi without
causing an uproar." But what he decided on, which was the best choice
for me, was to tell everybody that ever came to Mississippi to
interview me that I was crazy.
Why is that the best choice for you?
That was the biggest part of my game plan.
There's nothing more powerful than someone that everyone can say is
crazy, but everybody knows they're are not. Fear is a two-way street,
Most people only think it's a one-way street. Nothing is more
powerful than a person being in a situation where everyone thinks
they ought to be fearful, and they do not show any fear. What that
situation does is scare the life out of everybody else.
Know it's a fact: When (then-Lt. Gov.) Paul Johnson stopped us in the
middle of the street (in 1962) ... he was shaking so bad that he
couldn't hold his hand straight. Back then, the football players that
couldn't make it to the pros got automatic positions on the state
police. So you had all those 300-pound state troopers backing up
against the wall, and every one of them was shaking like a leaf on a tree.
I read that you were on campus, and somebody threw an M-80 down
behind you, and the story said you didn't flinch. How'd you do that?
I knew the power of fear and all the other emotions.
(Meredith hands over a sheaf of clippings and his own writings.)
I have never not felt that I was a prophet, that I had a divine
responsibility to tell the world what God intended for them to know.
But today is the first time I'm admitting it. A lot of people have sensed it.
That you were that prophet?
Right. Or that I felt like I was. (Laughs.) So that old James
Meredith dog that everybody's interested in can't hunt no more; I
didn't say won't; he can't because he's dead and buried. The real
James Meredithas Bill Minor said in his articlehe's coming out of
the closet. I'm going to let the world know who I really am.
Who are you really?
That's not easy. It's almost like the homosexual thing was 40 years
ago, and like the AIDS thing is today. Most any homosexual now who
wants to come out of the closet can do it without any particular fear
of result. But people with AIDS today would rather people not know
they have it, than to get proper treatment for it. In a sense, I
guess I'm saying that I went through every kind of disguise to
disguise the fact that I thought I was a messenger. Now I'm going to
use all my energy to do what I think God sent me here to do.
What is that?
To make the Christian world, particularly, know what the biblical and
Jesus' own command is for them to do for the poor. And the only thing
I'm connecting myself to with this debate at Oxford is this March
Against AIDS. Not because it's that, but the AIDS problem is what it
is because of the condition of the poor, and the responsibility (the
rich shirk) to give to the poor. When they give anything, they think
it's a gift. You understand? But that absolutely ain't the way Christ
meant it. It was an absolute responsibility. That's the message God
called me to deliver; and that's what I'm going to do with the rest
of my life. To tell you the truth, the last 10, 15 years, I've spent
trying to figure out why in the world God let me stay in (my life).
Why? Did you think your purpose was completed?
No, I knew it wasn't over with, but I also knew that I haven't done it.
Did you realize later that it's an ongoing fight, not just one battle?
You learn that from reading about Moses in the Bible. What most folks
don't know about Moses is how many times he went back to Egypt trying
to help the poor. In a sense, I've done everything I could to fulfill
my mission. I just didn't tell folks.
Isn't it easy to take a stance on fighting AIDS?
No, it's not easy. ... The media has decided they are not going to
deal with AIDS in America.
Is it a conscious decision by the media?
It's a conscious decision in that everybody can agree with my five
stipulations (for the media; see sidebar) except for the last one
about mentioning of "Southern Baptist" at least once. They tell me
that if they use that name, and they got a television program, that
they'll get put out of business, that if they are a paper, they'll
get boycotted and what not, you understand? ... They're responding to
the people who pay their salaries.
A lot of people complain about the way media cover Mississippi. What
do you think?
There's a fourth (branch of government): the media, which is a
thousand times more powerful than all the others put together. You
see, you all are always blaming the Klan, the Ku Klux Klan. They
ain't the ones making the policy; (the Klan) do what other powers
allow them to do. Dealing with the black/white issue in America,
that's been the Southern Baptists, and the most powerful are the
Mississippi Southern Baptists. All other states have deferred to
Mississippi and follow their lead on what policies can be agreed to.
... [Y]ou hear people talking about the "Bubba faction." The white,
poor working class faction: That exists because the media, for 40
years, went on a program of making all whites feel like they were
descended from the slave-holding class. There was nothing further
from truth ... (White supremacy) wasn't about the (poor white) people
who were always blamed; it was the powers-that-be.
Some people would think you were making an excuse for white
supremacy. Are they missing your point?
I really don't care. Understand: The greatest supporters of white
supremacy are blacks who have "made it." They are the last people who
want substantial change because they don't know where they will fit
after change. You understand? But that's secondary. The main issue in
America today is the whites who lived all their life on this promise
of getting something better than nonwhites, are now being cut off, they think.
By the change, man. If you're paying any attention at all, you'll see
that the first person who ever publicly got away with being mixed was
Barack Obama. Tiger Woods came close, but he never got away with it.
Both blacks and whites questioned Woods. For 500 years, since
Columbus discovered America, everyone who didn't have 100 percent
white blood was black. The real race issue is solved. But some people
are disappointed because they were promised all their lives that
because they were white that they were going to get an advantage.
That's all swept away. That's the real problem.
You said it's different with Barack Obama.
He's the only African American I know aboutmaybe one or two
otherswho've done this. Most people who think they're African
Americanactually 99 percent of them are practically Native American.
Forty percent of them couldn't prove they have an ounce of African blood.
What makes Obama different than Tiger Woods?
It's very simple. Other than James Meredith, I've concluded that
Barack Obama is the smartest person ever come into the world. Only
thing Obama and I really have in common is we both graduated from
Columbia University. And you, too. (To Donna; laughs). There's nobody
better in America or the world who understands how Western Christian
civilization works than Obama. He spent the biggest part of his life
trying to figure out who he was in the black/white thing. He gave up
on that and decided to learn how to remodel this system.
Most people know about the law review; every law school has one. But
at Harvard, don't nobody even pretendnot even Yaleto be on the same
level. Harvard has something interesting, though. ... The people on
the law review are the smartest lawyers in Western Christian
civilization. ... I'm by no means sure that he's going to be able to
maneuver it (winning the election). Being smart doesn't guarantee
that, but his brilliance, his knowledge is unsurpassed.
Are you an Obama fan?
There's one thing I agree with Rev. Wright about. Obama is a
politician; he has to do what a politician has to do. But Rev. Wright
said he was a pastor, he has to do what pastors have to do. I think
I'm a prophet, and I have to do what prophets have to do. Deciding
who to get elected isn't the business of a prophet. Whoever gets
elected, it's my business to make sure they do what ought to be done.
Did you meet Obama while he was in town at JSU?
No. I ain't never met nobody but Dr. King who was supposed to be important.
What do you think about the debate at Ole Miss, after your own
experience at that school?
If either the Democratic or Republican Party had any idea that Obama
or any other black was going to be one of two people who could
potentially become president of the United States, I guarantee that
debate wouldn't have been there. For more than a year, they've
promoted this debate as going to be about domestic issues, the race
issue, health issues. Two weeks ago, they changed it. I know why. I
ain't gonna tell you, but the question that ought to be asked is: Why
was it changed? I think I understand politics. I ran for Congress
once. Won the Democratic nomination and withdrew the next day. The
last thing in the world I needed to be was a politician. I ran
because in America that was one of the No. 1 platforms (to get my
What's your relationship now with Ole Miss?
I think Ole Miss is the most progressive of any major school in the
nation when it comes to race issues.
For the first 35 years after I went there, you would have found
nothing at Ole Miss that made you know that James Meredith had ever
been there. Almost since the time of present administration
(Chancellor Robert Khayat), they made what I am sure, although they
never told me, was a conscious decision to change. I think the
decision was to educate Mississippians, not to keep the nation off
their back, but they genuinely went out looking for blacks to
educate. For the first 35 years, you couldn't have read nothing (done
by Ole Miss) to know I was there.
Do you go there often now?
I haven't had a reason to visit since the statue was put up. My wife
and son are going to the debate as a guest of the chancellor.
Aren't you going to the debate?
Didn't you hear me say I'm a genius?
I guess the media would be all over you if you did. What do you think
of the statue they erected in your honor?
Like all the other major schools in the country, they were put under
heavy pressure to do a "Black Thing." The night before statue
dedication, they did their "Black Thing," and asked me to come early
and attend it. I've been trying for 20, 25 years to figure out how to
bury James Meredith and go back to who God put me here to be. And I
chose that night. And I told them in my presentation to them ... that
for the last 10 or 15 years I've been fighting hard with the
university to cut out the "black this, black that" thing. That is the
worst thing in American education today, the "black this" and "black that."
Tell us why.
In most schools across the country, the black studies have become the
black part of the university. And the professors that make $200,000 a
year, the black ones, genuinely think that if they got rid of that,
they'd get rid of them. ... Understand: Every major university in
America got black alumni and other alumni. I don't think nothing's
wrong with either one being a group, but it's wrong for the
university to pay for both. There's no difference whatsoever in
Alcorn being for black and Mississippi State being for white. That's the issue.
So you're saying that dual identity-studies tracks and identity
organizations keep black people back?
It keeps white supremacy reigning. There is absolutely no difference
between segregation to maintain white supremacy and desegregation to
maintain white supremacy, or integration to maintain white supremacy,
or black this, white that, and other state-funded things.
They're still divided?
And it's no different, and every magnate in the media knows that. Do
you know what the words "African American" really imply? That the
person doesn't have the natural right to be there, so that whatever
right they have has to be given to them. John Kennedy's daddy spent
his whole life and a whole lot of money trying to keep from becoming
(called) half Native American. For blacks to get control of the
set-asides, the black elite deliberately set up this African American
thing. Jesse Jackson called a meeting a long time ago of elite
blacks, determined to use this term. The majority of blacks hated
this term with a passion, but the media is pushing it down their throats.
The media would argue they're doing the right thing.
The little people are genuine. But there are nine people who control
the Southern Baptists, who control America, and America controls the
world. I don't know how many people control the media, but there
aren't a whole lot more than that.
Do people misinterpret you in thinking that you're anti-black?
That bothers me.
But your ultimate goal really is to fight white supremacy?
To destroy it. Anybody who's ever read anything I wrote, they know it
ain't to hurt white people. ... But my real focus is on producing
citizens without any identification. Don't call me African American;
I am a citizen of the United States of America. That's the
designation that I want everybody to reach.
Have you been to Britain? How do you feel about how they handle race?
Ain't been much. Last time I went was to study the black thing. ...
The only difference, and France is worse than England, is that blacks
are smaller in number. White supremacy is worldwide; the whole war
against Hitler was about white supremacy. It's not just an issue in
America. I found out last time I was in Europe. I went to Eastern
Europe; that's when I found out that white supremacy is just as
powerful there as the worst days in Mississippi. People have your
color (points to Adam) in southeast Europe, they'd suffer. Now, she'd
be sort of in the middle (points to Donna). They'd look at her and
wonder if she dyed (her hair).
What do you think of white people who say we shouldn't look at the
past, or keep dwelling on history, which includes what you did at Ole Miss?
It's not the blacks who are most concerned about that; it's the
whites. ... What most people don't know particularly about
Mississippi is that Mississippi is the most controlled state in the
union by the smallest number of people. White supremacistsstarting
with (former Govs.) Vardaman and Bilbotheir great appeal was that
they aspired to a kind of reality. Before Vardaman, for sure, the
elite people that owned all the Delta land controlled all the
politics in Mississippi. And they let a few people like Vardaman and
Bilbo go to the Ole Miss Law School. But the real problem, after the
Civil War and after Reconstruction, people who owned the rich
landand (the family of) McCain was one of themunderstood that the
poor whites lived worse; they had worse houses (and) medical care.
The people who owned and controlled Mississippi treated their work
force a whole lot better than poor whites. The use of this race thing
was to keep the poor whites poor but happy, because they could still
feel they were better than the blacks. That's where you are now with
groups saying, "Let the past stay in the past." That's not really
what they're about. It's still all about "Us" and "Them," and they
have never considered "Them" anymore "Us" than they consider me. Understand?
Sounds like a money thing.
Not only a money thing; it's a keeping-my-position thing.
So it was the powerful turning blacks and poor whites against one another?
Understand without a doubt that the most important 18 months of my
life I spent in Jesse Helms' office. ... The biggest thing I did was
research in the Library of Congress. The second biggest thing I did
was attend all of the think-tank meetings: The Heritage Foundation,
The Cato Institute, all of them. The other thing was to learn what
politicians on the inside know about the opposition. You better
believe they know a lot.
One of most important things I discovered was how the 1965 Voting
Rights Act became law. The 1964 Civil Rights Acts contained a voting
provision, but in Mississippi there weren't 10 (black) people
registered. So Lyndon Johnson called Sen. James Eastland to his
office. Eastland was the head of Judiciary Committee. Since Johnson
had left the Senate, Eastland was the most powerful single person in Congress.
Big Jim Eastland.
Exactly. They didn't just start recording with Nixon. (Laughs.) When
LBJ had Eastland in his office, he recorded the conversation. He told
Eastland: "I'm gonna give the blacks the votethough he didn't say
"blacks." "You the only one that can give me any trouble. I'm gonna
give them the vote. Jim, all you got to do is you take that vote
under your wing." And Jim went along with it. They didn't even have a
committee for (the 1965 legislation). It went right through. ... Jim
Eastland at the time was the most hated white man in Mississippi (by
blacks); he eclipsed Bilbo and Vardaman. Two months later, he was the
most beloved white man in Mississippi by blacks. The other thing that
Lyndon told him was that if you take that "black" vote under your
wing, we will not only control Mississippi, we will control the whole
South for the next 50 years and most statesevery big city in
America. It was a plan, and it worked perfectly according to the
plan. It's the main reason blacks loved him so much.
Of course, that's been happening through-out history. ... Democracy
has some good points, but it ain't hardly what most Americans think it is.
What's happening in politics today?
I think the future of the United States of America will be determined
by two groups of people: well-to-do white women over 70, and
pro-fessional or well-to-do white males under 40. What most people
don't know is that it was the rich white females that defeated the
ERA (Equal Rights Amendment). The reason 70-year-old white women are
key is because, being good Southern Baptists, they were loyal to
their husbandswhatever he did was alrightbut they were more than
loyal to their own sons. They wanted them to succeed any way
necessary, and they didn't care about the imbalance in their
opportunities and all that. A whole lot of them really and truly
believe, as they claim, in the fundamentals of the Bible. Older they
get, the more it bothers them. They don't have the same feeling of
responsibility to the grandchildren as they had for their husbands.
Their feelings of responsibility were even stronger in their own
children, male children in particular. At one time there was a group
who put themselves up on the Internet as the Old White Women in
Mississippi for Obama. (Laughs)
When you say biblical "fundamentals," what do you mean?
The big fight among evangelicals is whether you interpret the Bible
through metaphors or you literally believe that what is said in the
Bible: that the rich should help the poor. It literally says in the
Bible that the rich should help the poor, that farmers could not
harvest all the crops. (White wives) always understood that, but
their strongest commitment was to their husbands and their sons. But
as they get older, their husbands are gone, and their sons are successful.
And they sometimes have different ideas.
This election is key. What happens in Mississippi will reflect the
mood of the country. I won't quite say it will decide whether Obama
or McCain wins. If whites vote for Obama in Mississippi at 30
percent, that will almost mean that the majority of the whites (in
the U.S.) are ready (to vote for a black). You see, there ain't no
difference between politics and football. Bear Bryant had a quota of
five blacks on his team. In NFL, until 15 or 20 years ago, everyone
said a black couldn't be quarterback. Now if he can win, he can be
the quarterback. It's not an issue any more. Even Tiger Woods: When
he first came on scene it was an issue. Today nobody anywhere in the
world wants to have a golf tournament if Tiger Woods ain't on the
team. Mississippi will determine if blacks can really be politicians.
The national media might say there's no way Mississippi will
determine the electability of blacks.
(The reporters) out in the street talking to people believe that, but
the people who run the system know. They've got an agenda. ... During
World War II, Roosevelt appointed a commission to determine how to
deal with potential enemies in the event that America went into World
War II. This professor was one of members of that commission; he let
me read the commission report. He wouldn't give it to me, but he let
me read it. It made four basic decisions. No. 1, the Japanese: It
determined to put them in concentration camps. Next, the Germans: It
made a decision to contain them. Most of them were in the Midwest,
and they didn't feel like they could totally contain that population.
The Italians were next: Most of those lived in urban areas. They
decided to put selected Italians in concentration camps, to contain
them, watch them, though they're ashamed about that now and they
don't even talk about it. One of the other group was blacks: They
recommended to the president that all (Roosevelt) had to with the
blacks was make a vague promise of moving and uplifting. It
recommended that a high-ranking black be assigned in the Pentagon,
and one high-ranking black general be made; two (black)
congressmenone east of Mississippi, one westtwo congressional
districts be established. And then a pledge that they were going to
work to improve the condition of blacks. That is one of most
important bits of knowledge ever to come to me.
Do you think that speaks to the government's perception of the
gullibility of blacks?
The commission clearly comes to the conclusion that blacks were
clearly not anti-American. This is during World War II after
communists made all their efforts to recruit blacks and failed, so
their loyalty was not questioned.
Does that seem logical to you, that blacks didn't go for it?
It still seems logical to the liberal elite. Do you know what the
liberal agenda was (in the 1960s)?
If there are 100 rights, or even 10, even if blacks accepted only
threeeducation, interstate transportation and votingif those were
the only goals of the Movement, blacks would still accept it, would
only accept three of those citizenship rights. ... I had more than
one (white leader), including Robert Kennedy himself, who at the time
was a senator, to make me the proposition to make me the biggest
"black" politicianand he did say that. He didn't use that other
Were blacks hurt by going along with the "liberal agenda," by taking
the crumbs that were scattered down to them?
It killed them. In reality, blacks are worse off today than they've ever been.
What is Obama then, another crumb-dropper?
I ain't gonna talk about Obama and McCain.
We're not asking for an endorsement.
I mentioned both their names. I was hoping you would be satisfied.
What do we need to do then?
What we need is to shift the focus from race and color to rich and poor.
You're talking redistribution of wealth, pal. Sean Hannity's watchin'.
I wasn't going to say this, but the five most important people in
this campaign are:
No. 1, Sean Hannity;
No. 2, Jeremiah Wright;
No. 3, Michelle Obama;
No. 4, Barack Obama;
No. 5, Bill Clinton.
Hannity, because he ain't never going to let white supremacy go, and
he genuinely believes what he's doing. (Bill) O'Reilly and others are
just trying to get ratings, but Hannity really believes that whites
got special white rights. He's not just being anti-black; it's
anti-anything other than white. He won't let that issue die.
Jeremiah Wright because the biggest divide between black and white
America is religion; 98 percent of blacks who go to church go to a
church originally started by the Southern Baptists, and still to this
day dominates it. Obama disassociated himself with Rev. Wright. What
most people don't know is that Jeremiah Wright deliberately set it
up, so he could disassociate himself from him. Because he wanted to
see Obama elected. Watch Bill Moyers' interview with Wright and the
meeting of preachers in Detroit; then the very next day he came to
Washington, D.C., and threw this fit; he did that so Obama could cut
himself off and everyone would see it as justified. But that issue
ain't going away.
Michelle Obama: You read all the black magazines; they've kept up
with her pretty good. They're not saying nothing much, just real
pretty pictures. But they used to say Michelle was real; staying
real. Staying "black" was what they meant. Since the Convention, you
ain't once seen Michelle Obama unless she was hugging some elite white woman.
That, of course, is meant to help Obama, and I think it does. Takes
the edge off.
Barack Obama because he's so brilliant.
Bill Clinton understands even better than anyone sitting here the
race thing and Western Christian civilization. He genuinely believes
Hillary should be nominated because he didn't believe America was
ready to elect a black. It won't necessarily be about what he will do
in the future, but what he has already done. ... Not many people knew
Bill was sophisticated in playing the race card.
He did play the race card.
Of course, but he was sophisticated about it. He was a Rhodes Scholar.
You don't want to endorse, but do you think America can elect Barack Obama?
I believe it's a 49-51 situation. It absolutely depends on how
successful the Republicans are at highlighting the race issue. I
don't even know if Sarah Palin knows that she's in the race
becauselike that Canadian woman (CBC's Heather Mallick) saidshe's
white trash. I think she probably actually believes that she's
probably as good a person as ever been born.
Do you think the voter-registration drives will have an impact?
You don't win elections just by having people on the roads who are on
your side. You understand: Any good politicians knows if you can keep
the right people away from the polls, it will make all the
difference. Like this Florida thing: The whites sent out letters
telling blacks they're going to be arrested (if they got a record
when they vote). That's for real. I know there are more ways to keep
people from doing something than to get them to do something. I
guarantee you that the Republicans know more tricks than I do.
Mississippians under 30 went over 63 percent for Kerry in 2004, the
highest in the South. We have the largest percentage of blacks, but
we also have a lot of young people of all races who are thinking
differently these days. Does Mississippi have a shot of going for Obama?
If they have a shot, it's because of former Gov. (Ray) Mabus. When
Gov. Mabus was elected governor, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
interviewed him. They asked him what had to happen to make this race
thing right in Mississippi? His answer was that the black vote was
going to have to stop being bought and paid for before the election.
He is working hard (for the Obama campaign), genuinely. ... You
understand, the experts know the tricks (to discourage voting). And
they're going to be last-minute tricks. You see, Bilbo is still with
us. Bilbo says the way you make a nonwhite vote the way you want is
to visit him the night before. What he wanted, of course, was for
them to stay at home. Visit them the night beforeand there are a lot
of ways to "visit."
What's your advice to young people in Mississippi, both black and
white, to help us move forward and break the back of white supremacy?
I think they're already doing it. They're taking a real close look at
their own interests.
James H. Meredith
• Born: June 25, 1933, in Kosciusko
• Currently lives in Jackson
• Served in U.S. Air Force 1951-1960
• Attended JSU (formerly Jackson State College), before attempting to
register at the University of Mississippi
• Became first black to attend University of Mississippi (with help
from U.S. troops) on Oct. 1, 1962
• Graduated from Ole Miss after two semesters Aug. 18, 1963
• Worked for Sen. Jesse Helms from 1989 to 1991
• Shot and wounded during his March Against Fear in 1966
• Published "Three Years in Mississippi" in 1966
• Received law degree from Columbia University in 1968
• Spouse: Dr. Judy Meredith, JSU mass communications professor
James Meredith Policy On Interviews
September 24, 2008
I will grant an interview only to people who agree to the following
1. Do not refer to me as AFRICAN AMERICAN. I am a CITIZEN of the
United States of America.
2. Do not refer to the fighting at Ole Miss in 1962 as a RIOT. A
government cannot riot. It was a WAR between the state of Mississippi
and the United States.
3. Do not call the Black-White issue RACISM. It is an issue of White
Supremacy and black Inferiority.
4. Never say that it was the United States Marshals who insured my
rights as a CITIZEN to go to Ole Miss. It was the United States Army.
5. You must agree to use the term SOUTHERN BAPTISTS in the story at least once.
James Meredith said his hometown Jackson Free Press was the only
media outlet exempt from the rules.