U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder marked the 50th anniversary of James Meredith’s admission to the University of Mississippi Thursday, Sept. 27, during a visit to the Oxford campus.
It was 50 years ago next week that Meredith became the first African-American student to successfully enroll and attend classes at the university.
Holder recalled the U.S. Justice Department effort that backed Meredith with personal direction from President John F. Kennedy. And he also recalled the federal troops deployed onto a violent campus.
“Although the importance of what took place here 50 years ago can hardly be overstated – its immediate impact is difficult to measure,” Holder told those at Ole Miss. “That’s why, in the end, I believe these events mark not exactly a turning point in our history – but an inflection point.”
Holder linked the efforts before and after Meredith’s enrollment with current Justice Department efforts to pursue police misconduct, hate crimes and human trafficking criminal cases.
As part of Holder’s visit to the campus, federal prosecutors from Memphis were part of a panel discussion at the University of Mississippi Law School on human trafficking cases the Memphis office has been pursuing in the last year.