May 17, 1954 changed the education world forever. Brown v. Board of Education caused a ban of segregated schools with the final decision stating, “Separate education facilities are inherently unequal.” The ruling in Brown v. Board of Education was a major achievement and has been called “the single most important movement in the decade, the moment that separated the old order from the new and helped to create the tumultuous era just arriving.” However, it was not a complete victory. After the case, there was no indication of when desegregation was to be achieved.
On the morning of September 4, nine African-American students were supposed to desegregate Central High School, located in Little Rock, Arkansas. Elizabeth Eckford, one of the nine students, had not been informed that the group would meet somewhere that morning and enter the school together. Eckford walked towards Central High School alone and was awaited by an angry white mob. As she neared the school, Eckford was receiving angry shouts and was met the rifles of Arkansas National Guard who denied her entrance at the high school.
The following weeks of Little Rock were covered throughout the world. James Meredith, who was serving the air force outside Tokyo, Japan, heard the incidents going on in Little Rock. The Little Rock Crisis influenced Meredith to want break the system of white supremacy and create a better society.
Even though Mississippi had the highest rate of black population in 1960, desegregation came very late in the state. Before Meredith’s enrollment at the University of Mississippi in 1962, the south had been struggling with school segregation issues for nearly two decades. As of 1960, none of the Mississippi public universities had been desegregated.
The purpose is to examine how The Hattiesburg American located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, covered James Meredith enrolling at the University of Mississippi. There will be a look into the important landmarks that lead up to entry of James Meredith and if The Hattiesburg American covered the events fairly. This paper will discuss if The Hattiesburg American showed signs of being biased, whether it was towards or against the segregation of Ole Miss. The newspaper articles will be reviewed by a standard codebook used by two coders.
It is important to know how the state of Mississippi handled the situation. People’s mindsets were quite different than what they are now. Desegregating schools was a worry for many of the whites in Mississippi. Mississippians showed their ignorance and their strength with the enrollment of Meredith.
To have an understanding of the issues and opinions surrounding James Meredith is important because it shows the way he was able to shape and affect the education system in the state of Mississippi.