When James Meredith sought to legally become the first African American to attend the University of Mississippi, the duty of upholding the federal law allowing him to do so fell upon the Justice Department and the FBI. Meredith launched a legal revolt against white supremacy in the most segregated state in America and the iconic institution, Ole Miss.
Meredith's challenge triggered what Time magazine called "the gravest conflict between federal and state authority since the Civil War," a crisis that on September 30, 1962, exploded into a confrontation between university students, the community of Oxford, Mississippi, state governor Ross Barnett and a small corps of federal marshals. On October 1, President Kennedy ordered 20,000 combat infantry, paratroopers, military police and National Guard troops to Oxford to restore order, but not before two people died and dozens were injured.
James Meredith, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Integration of the University of Mississippi contains extensive FBI documentation on Meredith's battle to enroll at the University of Mississippi in 1962 and white political and social backlash. Other notable primary sources include Meredith's correspondence with the NAACP, and positive and negative letters he received from around the world during his ordeal.