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Never Before Seen 50-Year-Old Photos of the First Black Student at Ole Miss

Liz Dwyer

Fifty years ago this month 29-year-old black veteran James Meredith desegregated the University of Mississippi. Meredith's arrival was censored—no cameras were allowed to capture the images of white students walking out of the classroom, leaving him to sit alone. However, grad student Ed Meek happened to be in the building and surreptitiously snapped a set of photos he's kept under wraps for decades. Take a look at history.

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  • Cara Kitagawa-Sellers

    whenever i see photos like this, i'm always struck by the amount of access and opportunity i've had in education, and i am grateful to the people who paved the way. an interesting counterpart to the photos here is this one of george mclaurin, an african american student, in class, but still segregated. http://bit.ly/SYFNZO

    • Liz Dwyer

      That's such a chilling photo. The strength to sit in the classroom and do what you need to do as a student--that's determination to stand up for what's right. What also strikes me when I see these images is that my parents were kids in school when all this was going down. This wasn't that long ago but there's such an unwillingness to talk about this history and how it still affects our present-day.

  • Mandy M.

    Incredible shots. I went to Ole Miss almost 10 years ago. Ed Meek gave me my first job after school. Can't believe it.

    • Liz Dwyer

      That's amazing that he gave you your first job. Did he ever talk about being there on this day?

      • Mandy M.

        We never discussed. One of those things - you can't believe but you can. I could see him being wherever the action was.

    • Liz Dwyer

      I had the same reaction. The way Meredith is sitting there and the expression on his face--it really got to me. It also made me think about how even though school segregation like this is illegal, that recent report from the UCLA Civil Rights Project revealed that our K-12 schools are more racially segregated than ever. We need the laws to change things, but the heart is a tougher nut to crack.