Governor Barnett vs. Meredith

It seemed that the state of Mississippi was split up by two different kinds of racists, the mild racists such as John Coleman and rabid racists such as Governor Ross Barnett.  Supporters of Ross Barnett were equally racist judges who upheld the right of the University and denied Meredith twice.

February 4, 1961, after Meredith first attempt to enter the university was unsucessful, an integration scare swept over the state of Mississippi.  Fearing that there would be integration happening at the University of Mississippi, Governor Ross Barnett had sent eight state troopers to the Ole Miss campus.  When Governor Barnett was questioned, he refused to comment.  The attorney general’s office said it did not know what was happening at Ole Miss and the patrolmen that were sent to campus claimed they were only doing a civil defense exercise and/or registering for graduate classes.

After the Court of Appeals approved of Meredith’s entrance to Ole Miss,  Governor Barnett tried passing a law against Meredith that “prohibited any person who was convicted of a state crime from admission to a state school,” because Meredith had been convicted of false voter registration previously.

On September 13, Governor Barnett was determined to stop the court’s decision of integrating the University of Mississippi.  Governor Barnett spoke on live radio and television stating that the people of Mississippi had a choice: either they submitted to the tyranny of the federal government or they acted like men and resisted.  Barnett explained, “Mississippi, as a Sovereign State, has the right under the federal Constitution to determine for itself what the federal Constitution has reserved to it.”

The Kennedy’s continued to fight with an ignorant Governor Barnett over the registration of Meredith until Meredith was successfully entered at the university.


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