The Fall of 1962

Burning Cars, Marleah Kaufman Hobbs 1963 


AUGUST 2, 2022 – JULY 8, 2023

A Collection of Artifacts and Stories of the Ole Miss Riot
On October 1, 1962, the University of Mississippi was officially integrated with the admission of its first African American student James Meredith. The images, personal accounts, and artifacts in this exhibit exemplify the infamous and deadly Ole Miss Riot, a final segregationist opposition to Meredith’s year-long battle for admission. In the days preceding this event, U.S. Marshals were sent to ensure Meredith’s admission but were repeatedly denied. As Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett continued to publicly disobey federal authority, more military forces arrived on campus in anticipation of a brewing conflict. As dusk fell on September 30, 1962, the eve of Meredith’s registration for the Fall Semester, the angry mob who had gathered at the Lyceum turned violent. They raided the science buildings for chemicals and acids and created Molotov cocktails to throw at the guards. Bricks, concrete, and glass from the nearby construction site of the new science building, Shoemaker Hall, became projectiles and brickbats. The riot continued through the night, only to be subdued after another 13,000 troops arrived in the early morning. Jukebox repair man Ray Gunter, 23 and French journalist, Paul Guihard, were killed, and at least 200 troops and marshals were injured. Finally, on Monday, October 1, 1962, U.S. Marshals successfully escorted Meredith to register for classes at the Lyceum Building. However, the threat wasn’t over; marshals remained stationed in Oxford, MS to escort Meredith to and from his classes and meals for the next year. Persisting through constant taunts and fear of violence, Meredith graduated on August 18, 1963, with a degree in political science. Through his bravery and perseverance Meredith became an inspirational leader of the American civil rights movement. A statue of James Meredith, erected on campus in 2006, now commemorates the integration of the University of Mississippi, and the site of the riot is designated as a National Historic Landmark.

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