James Meredith is an American hero. Born in Kosciusko, Mississippi in 1933, he enlisted in the United States Air Force after graduating from high school and rose to the rank of staff sergeant. Sometime before his discharge in July, 1960, he decided to continue his education and seek a law degree.
Enrolling in Jackson State University, a historically Black college school in Mississippi, he subsequently applied for admission to the University of Mississippi, a move which involved him in the long and bitter struggle described in his books. After graduating in 1963, he did research in political science at the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research of the University of Ibadan. After a lecture tour of the major universities in Africa he visited Italy, Germany, France, England, The Netherlands, and several countries in the Middle East. He returned to the United States in 1965 and enrolled in the School of Law at Columbia University on a scholarship grant.
He started the Meredith Mississippi March Against Fear in 1966 which led to the development of the Black Power Movement.
James Meredith has spent his whole life in the struggle to make every American a Full-First-Class Citizen with complete equality, and has travelled the world studying and researching the question of Race and Color. More importantly, James Meredith has spent the last 40 years writing and speaking about his experiences and about Mississippi and American history. He has published 16 hardback books, and nine booklets, as well as, eight video movies.
He serves as President of the Meredith Institute, Inc., a non-profit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization focused on teaching Black Americans the importance of language and how to read, write, and speak the English language.
In His Own Words
Ever since I was fifteen years old I have been self-consciously aware that I am a Negro. Of course, I had known that I belonged to a group that was distinctly different from at least one other group, but until I was fifteen I did not know that my group was supposed to be the inferior one. Since then I have felt a personal responsibility to change the status of my group. There is no way for one Black to change his basic status without first changing that of all Blacks. I have long recognized the folly of advocating a change simply because it is right, because it is humane, because it is Christian, because it is in the Constitution, or for any other nonpractical reason. I am aware of another important fact: if I were a white man, I would not give up my favored position unless there was an extremely good reason. The greatest hope for a major change in the basic status of African Americans is to convince the American whites that it is in their best interest. It is my firm conviction that the solution must result in the material improvement of both groups concerned - the oppressors as well as the oppressed.