LUMBERTON, MS (WDAM) - Outspoken Mississippi civil rights pioneer James Meredith is calling recent vandalism of a statue is his honor at the University of Mississippi "foolishness" and a "distraction" and he said in no way should it discourage African-American students from attending Ole Miss.
Meredith, who spoke Friday at a black history program at Lumberton High School, was the first African-American student admitted to Ole Miss in 1962.
Twelve days ago, a noose and an old Georgia state flag were placed on a statue of Meredith at the university. No one has yet been charged with a crime, but three Ole Miss freshmen students from Georgia have been kicked out of their fraternity and could be expelled from school in connection with the incident.
Meredith said, "teenagers have been committing pranks and doing foolish things forever, and blacks will be out of their minds if they were planning on going to Ole Miss and let this distraction turn them away."
"There has not been a lynching in Mississippi since 1958, almost six decades...so what's so important about a noose? That's foolishness," he said.
Meredith also spoke about the importance of education for minority students and said churches should play a more important role in helping to raise black children.