Fifty years ago today, Gov. Ross R. Barnett blocked African-American student James Meredith from enrolling at the University of Mississippi.
Meredith's appearance on the Oxford campus sparked violent protests and prompted President John F. Kennedy to dispatch federal troops to Mississippi.
Barnett was fined and, later, a body of water was named after him. Meredith got a statue erected in his honor, about which he told the Jackson Free Press in 2008:
Like all the other major schools in the country, they were put under heavy pressure to do a "Black Thing." The night before statue dedication, they did their "Black Thing," and asked me to come early and attend it. I've been trying for 20, 25 years to figure out how to bury James Meredith and go back to who God put me here to be. And I chose that night. And I told them in my presentation to them ... that for the last 10 or 15 years I've been fighting hard with the university to cut out the "black this, black that" thing. That is the worst thing in American education today, the "black this" and "black that."