Federal investigators are combing the University of Mississippi for someone who tied a noose around the neck of a statue of the college’s first African-American student. [Image via Adam Jones, Ph. D – Global Photo Archive/Flickr]
Campus police discovered last Sunday that someone placed a noose and a Georgia state flag with a Confederate battle symbol on a statue of James Meredith, the famed civil rights leader and the first African-American student to enroll at the University of Mississippi following integration.So far, the FBI has not made any arrests and announced any suspects except that a witness saw two men stand by the statue before it was defaced.
College officials quickly condemned the action. Mississippi NAACP president Derrick Johnson called the incident a “racial hate crime” and the Ole Miss Alumni Association offered a $25,000 reward to the person who provides information that leads to an arrest in the case.
Sadly, a lot of these recent events have turned out to be hoaxes–like the racist graffiti and swastikas that ended up being drawn all over the Oberlin College campus by Dylan Bleier of the Oberlin College Democrats. (With dishonorable mention going to Bleier’s sidekick Matthew Alden.) In any case, this is a pretty loathsome act involving an important historical figure. For those who don’t know their history, Meredith wasn’t just the first African-American student to attend Ole Miss. He did so under extremely dangerous and hostile circumstances.
Back in 1962, staunch segregationist and Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett refused to comply the federal government’s orders to allow Meredith to register for school. U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy had to call out the National Guard to make sure Meredith was allowed to register for classes. A protest broke out that caused a massive riot in which 300 people were injured and two were killed. So regardless of political affiliation here, someone’s in a hell of a lot of trouble–not to mention acting like a real creep.