Ole Miss Adds Meredith Statue to Memorial Plans
The University of Mississippi has added a statute of James Meredith, the first African-American to attend the school, to a planned civil rights memorial.
University officials agreed to the change last month as a compromise with student leaders.
The memorial is expected to be completed by May. The statue of Meredith, who was admitted to Ole Miss amid riots in 1962, will be done by Oxford artist Robert Moorehead.
Chancellor Robert Conrad Khayat came under criticism when he earlier rejected a previous design by students, civil rights veterans and artists after nearly a decade of planning.
The addition of the Meredith statue will enhance the memorial, says Andy Mullins, Khayat’s executive assistant.
“He is a heroic figure as far as what he did as a student,” Mullins says.
Mullins adds that the university will pick up the tab for additional costs to build the Meredith statue.
“I do think it is a good idea because of the struggle he had to go through as the first African-American student,” says Jonathan Hutchings, 25, president of the Black Graduate Students Association at Ole Miss.
“I think it will be a great addition to Ole Miss,” he says. “It will be here permanently, and if it has taken 10 years to go up, so be it.”
Meredith’s admission to Ole Miss, which opened in 1848, “was pivotal in the history of the university,” says Ole Miss journalism professor Joe Atkins.
“It looks like maybe we have come up with a solution and everybody will be happy,” Atkins says.
The retooling of the memorial is not over. Mullins says work will continue on sides of the memorial to list quotes from leaders from the 1960s and short phrases from the civil rights era such as the word “freedom.” Suggestions will go to Khayat.
Khayat has said the memorial is needed to make a statement about Ole Miss’ role in the integration of higher education in the South.
— Associated Press
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