U.S. Attorney General Holder Pays Tribute to MeredithBy Sandra Knispel | Published 28 Sep 2012 09:00am |
United States Attorney General Eric Holder, the first African American to hold this job, is paying tribute to James Meredith, the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi 50 years ago. MPB’s Sandra Knispel reports from Oxford.
“There is no question that this university’s integration marked a significant moment and a tangible step forward in the long march towards civil rights for all. It was a triumph for the rule of law,” Holder said.
Speaking to a packed house at the Gertrude Ford Center on campus last night, Holder was greeted by a standing ovation. The AG told his audience that he still remembers vividly the television images of the night of violent rioting that left hundreds injured and two dead.
“This was never a question of doing what was easy. It was a matter of doing what was right. The need to carry out the Supreme Court’s decision and to affirm that the United States is a nation governed by laws -- unbound by the politics of convenience or the pressures of the day – was a very powerful imperative.”
Listening in the front row was Ole Miss Honors College sophomore Sierra Mannie who says Meredith’s paving the way for black students continues to inspire her.
“James Meredith is a bellwether of everything, I think, that anyone ever wants to achieve. It’s innovation, it’s bravery, it’s courage beyond anything I’ve ever seen anyone experience. To know that sections of our campus are national historic landmarks simply for what he did – it’s really an awe-inspiring feeling.”
Holder meanwhile implored the students to continue the work toward a truly integrated society, calling it their “solemn obligation” and “breathtaking opportunity.”
Sandra Knispel, MPB News, Oxford.
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