LEWISTON, Idaho – American Civil Rights Movement figure James Meredith will speak at Lewis-Clark State College’s Silverthorne Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 18, at 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and the doors open at 1:30 p.m.
Meredith, 82, became the first African-American student to be admitted to the University of Mississippi in 1962. His story captivated the nation as his 1961 admission to the school was withdrawn after the registrar discovered his race. Meredith filed a suit alleging discrimination and, although the district court ruled against him, the case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor.
When Meredith arrived on campus to register for classes on Sept. 20, 1962, he found the entrance blocked. Rioting erupted, and Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent 500 U.S. Marshals to the scene. Additionally, President John F. Kennedy sent military police and troops from the Mississippi National Guard.
In 1966, Meredith returned to the public eye when he began his “March Against Fear.” On June 6, just one day into the march, he was struck by a sniper’s bullet and sent to a hospital. Other civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr., arrived to continue the march on his behalf.
Born in Mississippi in 1933, Meredith was raised on a farm with nine siblings. He joined the Air Force after high school and attended an all-black college before attending the University of Mississippi. After graduating, he earned a law degree and became involved in politics. He continues to be active in civil rights.
The lecture is presented by LCSC’s Center for Arts & History, Coeur d’Alene Center, and the Humanities Division. Sponsors include the Idaho Human Rights Education Institute, the Northwest Coalition for Human Rights, and the Idaho Humanities Council. Partnering schools include the University of Idaho - Coeur d’Alene, Washington State University, North Idaho College, and Gonzaga University.