Sunday, October 7, 2012

University of Mississippi Will Celebrate 50th Anniversary of the Beginning of the End of Its Ugly Segregationist, Racist Past

And the Supreme Court Will Soon Join the Celebration by Overturning the Voting Rights Act and Admissions Practices That Try to Correct for Lingering Injustice

Fifty years ago, in 1962 a black man, James Meredith attempted to start school at the University of Mississippi.  It seems incredible today that any person duly admitted to a state university would make news when he or she started classes, but that was not the case in 1962.

So a new historical marker now serves as the physical reminder of the night of Sept. 30, 1962, when hundreds of federal marshals and thousands of Army and National Guard troops met a violent mob of segregationists from all over the South and the campus became a battleground. Two people were killed, hundreds were wounded and the vicious realities of a racist society were broadcast around the world.

The following morning, James Meredith enrolled in classes, and Ole Miss was racially integrated.

Has life changed at Ole Miss, sure it has.

Though Ole Miss officials are quick to say there is more work to be done, much of the program’s emphasis has been on the university’s undeniable progress in matters of race: the president of the student body is a black woman and, even more notably for a school that has long prided itself on beauty queens, so is the homecoming queen.

And much credit should be given, although a lot of credit goes to the fact that many men previously denied admission turned out to be very good at football and basketball.

As for the rest of the country, this term the Supreme Court will likely rule that the Voting Rights Act, the key piece of legislation that gave basic civil rights to African Americans is no longer valid, and that even the informal use of race in college admissions to try to gain diversity in a college student body is unconstitutional.  See for Conservatives racism is wrong, but that is only something they recently discovered.  A look back at history will find that it was not Republicans, it was Conservative Democrats (now turned into Conservative Republicans) who fought to sustain a virulently racist society.

So yes, America is celebrating the 50th anniversary of an historic day that began to end the awful practice of racism in education, and the Supreme Court will take steps to turn the country back towards those days.

The best that can be said, America is a better place than it was fifty years ago, and even the efforts of Conservative Supreme Court Justices cannot undo all of the good America has experience since that awful day in 1962.

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