James Meredith was walking down Highway 51 just south of Hernando, Mississippi. It was June 6, 1966, the second day of his planned 220-mile trek from Memphis to Jackson, which he undertook to encourage Black people to overcome racist intimidation and to register to vote.
As cars filled with newspaper reporters and police officers rolled nearby, he walked a sloping stretch of road lined with pine trees. He heard a shout: “James Meredith! James Meredith!”
A white man in a roadside gully lifted his shotgun, aimed at Meredith and fired. Meredith was hit and crawled across the road, his eyes wide with panic. As he splayed onto the gravel shoulder of Highway 51, blood soaked through the back of his shirt.
The attack, which happened 55 years ago, propelled Meredith back into the spotlight. Four years earlier he had integrated the University of Mississippi, which prompted bloody rioting and a political crisis. Now, in 1966, photographs of an anguished, injured Meredith splashed across newspapers’ front pages, and the media again admired his stoic fight for racial justice.
Civil rights leaders and thousands of others took up Meredith’s walk, transforming it into a huge demonstration known as the “Meredith March” and “March Against Fear.”
But Meredith, who survived his wounds, resisted his assigned political role. While liberals celebrated his sacrifice, he grumbled that he should have carried a gun, and in the ensuing weeks, he complained that the march lacked order, imposed upon Black Mississippians and endangered women and children.
The shooting revealed how James Meredith fits no conventional political category. He is a civil rights hero who does not associate himself with the civil rights movement. He espouses conservative ideas of self-reliance, discipline, morality and manhood, yet he proclaims a radical mission to destroy white supremacy.
Read the complete article at: The Conversation