On this day in history - October 1st, 1962

James Meredith at Ole Miss in 1962
James Meredith at Ole Miss in 1962

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - James Meredith defies segregation and becomes the first African-American student enrolled at the University of Mississippi.

After attending Jackson State University for two years, Meredith applied to Ole Miss and the college immediately denied his application. Under advisement from Medgar Evers and the NAACP, Meredith filed a lawsuit against Ole Miss that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Meredith claimed that since his academic record was solid, Ole Miss denied his application because of his race and the Supreme Court agreed.

President John F. Kennedy and his brother U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy intervened on Meredith's behalf after Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett blocked Meredith's enrollment. The Kennedys sent the Mississippi National Guard, U.S. Marshals and elements of the Army's 2nd Infantry Division to put down rioting in Oxford and ensure Meredith could finish his application and begin classes.

The rioting on the campus of the University of Mississippi on October 1st, 1962 that continued for several days killed two people including a French journalist. The U.S. Marshals and Army and National Guard took some 200 wounded between them.

Meredith graduated from Ole Miss in 1963 after two semesters. His enrollment is generally considered a pivotal moment in civil rights history.