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This Day in History: June 6th

James Meredith Was Shot During March Against Fear

James Meredith is shot by a sniper on June 6th, 1966

Civil Rights activist James Meredith became the first African-American to attend the University of Mississippi on October 1, 1962 when Mississippi National Guard and federal troops took control over the campus following a riot in protest of his admission.

The Air Force veteran’s entrance to the school’s registration office was blocked by the state’s governor, who was later found guilty of civil contempt. U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy sent 127 U.S. deputy marshals to accompany Meredith on campus, sparking riots that left two people dead.

But Meredith’s fight for equality extended beyond the one year he spent at Ole Miss. Meredith led the March Against in Fear on this day (June 5th) 1966. Demonstrators sought to promote black voter registration and fight racism by walking from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi.

But on the second day of the march, Meredith was shot by sniper bullets that struck him in the head, neck, back and legs. White Memphis native Aubrey James Norvell plead guilty to the shooting but served 18 months of a five-year prison sentence.

To show the movement would not be deterred by violence, Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael and other civil rights activists continued the march while Meredith recovered from his injuries. He would later rejoin the demonstration, which reached Jackson, Mississippi on June 26th.

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