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Meredith reflects on his belief of 'God's plan'

James Meredith is escorted to class at Ole Miss during the riots of 1962.

Photo by Wiki Commons / U.S. Library of Congress

By Gabby Boyd

For the Daily Corinthian

When people think of Ole Miss, they probably think of one of the most popular universities in the South.

The southern campus is full of elegance, beauty and lots of history. Several professional athletes and politicians have attended the University of Mississippi, but there is one man who's iconic journey will always play a major role in the campus's history.

James Meredith's story has been shared worldwide throughout the years. The activist and civil rights leader was the first African American to enroll at the University of Mississippi during the early 1960s.

When attending Ole Miss, Meredith was escorted to class by federal marshals.

"They came from all over America just to take me to class," said the now 86-year-old activist.

Meredith spent nine years in the military before attending the University of Mississippi. He graduated in 1963 with a degree in political science.

After graduation he furthered his education at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. He later went to Columbia Law School in New York where he received a Bachelor of Law.

He eventually came back to his Magnolia home state.

"I always wanted to to be a leader and teacher for all of the Christians of Mississippi regardless of what group they are," he said.

"I came back to lead them and to educate them about Jesus Christ and that his teachings are God's will," said the Kosciusko native.

His goal is to educate people on various topics such as what the public libraries offer and why people who want to move up in the world should take advantage of its opportunities, he said.

He now looks back and believes he was a part of God's plan.

"Everything I've ever done I thought I was on a mission to God and I knew He was going to take care of me. All I had to do was follow his instructions," he said.

He believes it was God's will for him to attend Ole Miss and integrate the campus. He said the whole time he was there, his mind kept thinking about God's plan.

"If they didn't want me there, it was their problem, not mine. I was only there to accomplish God's purpose at that moment and carry out the mission by God," said Ole Miss alumnus.

Meredith believes his purpose was no different than anyone else's.

"This stuff has been going on throughout history all over the world. Ever since the discovery of the New World there have been issues in America," he said. "Many people are starting to realize it now."

Meredith thinks it's all a process and a form of growth in the state.

"If you think about things, immigration is the same as integration. It's just a different topic, yet a process," he said.

It's all part of God's work, he said.

"God's plan is the next step in America and it's taught by Jesus Christ. Our state is the best place to make it happen because Mississippi has thought longer and harder than any other place about problems," said Meredith.

The historic icon said a lot of people praise him all the time, but he tells them it was God who used him as the key to open doors for black students at Ole Miss.

Meredith said he was afraid to come forward to talk about God's Plan.

"Everyone wants to be liked and no one wants to deal with the fear of being disliked," he said.

The activist has published a book entitled "Three Years in Mississippi".

"I wrote it 57 years ago and the University of Mississippi republished it and wrote the introduction in February of this year," he said.

The Jackson resident said he's been told by many experts it's the best book published about race relations in America and it's also being heavily promoted.

"I think race has been an issue ever since the discovery of the plan," he said.

Meredith recently made his way to Corinth to discuss the plan. He handed out packets of information with copies of photographs and newspaper stories about his "God's Message For Our time" statement and how to order his book, "Three Years in Mississippi" from the University Press of Mississippi. The packets also listed how he can be reached.

"I went there (to Corinth) because it was the beginning of the second stage. The first stage began in Crenshaw," he said.

The leader traveled all the way up the west side of the state and down to Moss Point delivering messages about God's mission, he said.

He stopped by newspaper offices and every's sheriff's office to put it "in the grapevine," he said.

"The sheriff has the capacity to know every individual in his county and so do the newspapers, but still the most effective way to communicate with people is through word of mouth," he said.

And now at age 86, the first African American who now has a bronze statue on the Ole Miss campus continues to spread his message of faith.