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Friday, September 21, 2012

James Meredith

    Your brother (doesn't matter the race or religion) becomes a serial killer, goes on a rampage, so now we decide as a society to punish the entire family, we arrest you, your parents, your other brothers and sisters, the children, everyone.  We condemn everyone with these murders, and everyone, including the children, go to prison.  You would say this is a ridiculous idea, and no one would ever do that? No? Take another look at history.
How far have we come with racism and attitudes towards others?
In some ways, I would say we have made many strides, in others, not so much.

    After 9/11 too many Muslims and Iraqi's and Afghans and others (people of Middle Eastern descent) who were living here in the states, were attacked, murdered, and maimed and other things.  All because of their race and religion.
   This is ONLY eleven years ago, and yes, I understand that someone within their religion, their race, attacked us.  But does this give us the right to retaliate and turn on them?

   When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941, afterwards Japanese Americans (no matter if they had been in the states for many many years) were put into concentration camps, and held on suspicion of conspiracy.  Is this what we are reduced to?

And I have this titled James Meredith, why is that?
On 20 September 1962 James Meredith attempted to walk into University of Mississippi as a student, but he was stopped by the Governor of Mississippi.  He was told his application had been denied.  The only one who honestly denied him, was the Governor of Mississipppi.
He was known for saying: "The Good Lord was the original segregationist. He put the black man in Africa. ... He made us white because he wanted us white, and He intended that we should stay that way."

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ross_Barnett)

Lets talk a little bit about James himself, well, looky there! James Meredith was born 25 June 1933 (my birthday!) to Moses Meredith and Roxie Patterson.  He had nine siblings he grew up with on their fathers farm outside of Kosciusko, Ms.  When he was 13 years old, he found out about true racism.  It had only been on the edges of his life until then.  At the age of 13, he and one of his brothers went to Chicago, taking the train.  When the train got to Memphis, he and his brother were made to go to the black section of the train, and stand for the rest of their trip.  He vowed then, that he would always fight against racism, and ensure the rights of blacks in all entitlements as American Citizens.

After he graduated high school, from 1951 to 1960, he was in the US Air Force.  When he left the air force, he decided to go back to school, and this is where his true fight began.
It took him two years to get accepted at U of M.  They denied that he his application was being turned down because of his race, but the courts finally agreed with him, and the university was forced to accept his application. 
He attempted to begin the first day with the rest of the students, but Governor Barnett met James at the door himself, saying his application had been denied. 
But James did not allow this to stop him.  He did not shrug his shoulders and give in.  Ten days later on 1 Oct, 1962, he showed up at the school with 500 Federal Marshalls.  He was going to attend college if it killed him, and it nearly did.  Riots broke out, and many were injured, and two bystanders were killed.  A journalist by the name of Paul Guihard was one of the bystanders.  He was a French journalist on assignment working for the London Daily Sketch.  He was found behind the Lyceum (aka lecture hall or concert hall) shot in the back.  It is sad that lives had to be lost, especially for one young man wanting to further his education.
Governor Barnett was fined 10K dollars and sent him to jail for contempt of court (denying James his education), but he never spent a day in jail, nor did he pay the money.  The charges were later dropped.
James graduated with a degree in political science in August 1963.
That one year of his university education was quite possibly the worst of his life.  He was abused, and ignored.  But he understood that he was the first to do this, and he had to finish it out, or it would prove the segregists correct. 
We are all human beings, capable, and able, and deserving of equal treatment, whether it has to do with education, medical, or simple courtesies within our lives.
He continued his education, going to school in Africa, Mississippi, and NY.  he earned his law degree.  During his education, he also led a civil rights walk from Memphis, Tn to Jackson, Ms in June 1966. 
James Meredith did not only believe in integration, but he lived by it. 
We can either learn a lesson from his experiences, or we can continue to be stubborn, and racist, it is truly up to you.  But remember, what you teach your children, is how they will treat you when they get older.

We stand on the shoulders of great people, John F Kennedy, Franklin D Roosevelt, Lincoln, Washington, Neil Armstrong, James Meredith.

Will you stand on their shoulders, and build your shoulders strong enough to allow others to stand on yours, or will you topple?

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