60 Years of Integration, Building upon the Legacy, The University of Mississippi



James Meredith Bio

On Oct. 1, 1962, James Meredith became the first African American student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. In the years since, the 10-year Air Force veteran and native Mississippian has emerged as an iconic figure in the U.S. Civil Rights movement. His 1966 March Against Fear started as a solo journey from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi, but thousands joined him after he was shot on just the second day.

The university built a statue to honor the seminal figure in 2006, and in 2008 he was elected to the UM Alumni Association Hall of Fame. His late son, Joseph, and granddaughter, Jasmine, followed in his footsteps as UM alumni.

For images and video from Wednesday night’s event, contact Jacob Batte, news and media relations director, at

Signature Event, Sept. 28


Chancellor Glenn Boyce
Dr. Glenn Boyce became the 18th chancellor of the University of Mississippi, his alma mater, in 2019. He previously served for three years as Mississippi’s commissioner of higher education.
Donald Cole
Dr. Donald Cole is a veteran educator and university administrator who retired from UM in 2019 after 26 years ​as a mathematics  professor, program director, grant writer, assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs, chair of several university committees and a trusted mentor to legions of students. In 2021, the university unveiled the Martindale-Cole Student Services Center, ​in his honor.
Ethel Scurlock
Dr. Ethel Scurlock is the dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the first African American woman to become a dean at UM. Dr. Scurlock is the keynote speaker for “The Mission Continues: Building Upon the Legacy.”
Shawnboda Mead
Dr. Shawnboda Mead is the UM vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement. Dr. Mead first joined the university in 2014 as the inaugural director of the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement.
Ronald Davis
Ronald L. Davis is the director of the U.S. Marshals Service, a role President Joe Biden appointed him to in 2021. Prior to that, the nearly 30-year law enforcement veteran was the director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services for the U.S. Department of Justice.
Kesha Howell-Atkinson
Kesha Howell-Atkinson was first elected to the Oxford Board of Alderman in a 2019 special election, winning the seat previously held by her late father. Howell-Atkinson is also the physical education teacher and head women’s basketball coach at Oxford Middle School.
Lee Cohen
Lee Cohen is the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Mississippi. As dean, he oversees 18 degree-granting departments, three ROTC units and 11 centers.
Mohammed Bashir Salau
Dr. Mohammed Bashir Salad is a professor of history and vice president of the Black Faculty and Staff Organization. He joined the university’s history department in 2011.
Dee Harris
Dee Harris is the president of the Black Student Union. The Hattiesburg native has also served as the president of the Ole Miss NAACP and as an Associated Student Body senator.
Noel Wilkin
Noel Wilkin is the UM provost and ​executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. He first joined the university in 1996 and also serves as a professor of Pharmacy Administration and research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.


“The courageous actions by James Meredith in 1962 stand among the most profoundly meaningful events in our university’s history”
Dr. Shawnboda Mead

“I hope that people are inspired by how Mr. Meredith’s courage and persistence demonstrate how even one individual can affect change and make an impact, not just for themselves but for future generations.”
Chancellor Glenn Boyce

“He [Meredith] transformed Ole Miss, the state of Mississippi and every institution of higher learning in the country and abroad.”
Dr. J. Steven Blake, UM alumnus and physician in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“The flagship moves the state forward. The legacy that James Meredith left is that the University of Mississippi has to serve every Mississippian.”
Ethel Scurlock, dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College

“The university we know today would not exist without the sacrifices he made and without what he did to make the university a place all people can attend.”
Jesse Holland, UM alumnus, author and MSNBC columnist

“[James] Meredith’s contributions, his sacrifice to integrate Ole Miss at a time that it was very difficult is something that I’ve admired and known since I started looking at Ole Miss. I grew up very poor in rural Mississippi. If it were not for him and the sacrifices that he made, I would not be where I am today.”
Mary Irby-Jones, editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal

“What Dr. King was able to do with words, James Meredith did with symbolism. He is a citizenship maximalist. He believes in his rights as a citizen, and he is one of the deepest thinkers in American history. He is so generous of spirit and so generous of heart.
Clay Haskell, director of Mississippi Messiah


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For media inquiries contact Jacob Batte, director of News & Media Relations at