30
Sep
08

On This Day, 9-30-2008: James Meredith

September 30, 1962

Riots over desegregation of Ole Miss

In Oxford, Mississippi, James H. Meredith, an African American, is escorted onto the University of Mississippi campus by U.S. Marshals, setting off a deadly riot. Two men were killed before the racial violence was quelled by more than 3,000 federal soldiers. The next day, Meredith successfully enrolled and began to attend classes amid continuing disruption.

A former serviceman in the U.S. Air Force, Meredith applied and was accepted to the University of Mississippi in 1962, but his admission was revoked when the registrar learned of his race. A federal court ordered “Ole Miss” to admit him, but when he tried to register on September 20, 1962, he found the entrance to the office blocked by Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett. On September 28, the governor was found guilty of civil contempt and was ordered to cease his interference with desegregation at the university or face arrest and a fine of $10,000 a day. Two days later, Meredith was escorted onto the Ole Miss campus by U.S. Marshals. Turned back by violence, he returned the next day and began classes. Meredith, who was a transfer student from all-black Jackson State College, graduated with a degree in political science in 1963.

In 1966, Meredith returned to the public eye when he began a lone civil rights march in an attempt to encourage voter registration by African Americans in the South. During this March Against Fear, Meredith intended to walk from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi. However, on June 6, just two days into the march, he was sent to a hospital by a sniper’s bullet.

Other civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and Stokely Carmichael, arrived to continue the march on his behalf. It was during the March Against Fear that Carmichael, who was leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, first spoke publicly of “Black Power”–his concept of militant African American nationalism. James Meredith later recovered and rejoined the march he had originated, and on June 26 the marchers successfully reached Jackson, Mississippi.

“Riots over desegregation of Ole Miss.” 2008. The History Channel website. 30 Sep 2008, 05:08 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5386.

On This Day

1777 – The Congress of the United States moved to York, PA, due to advancing British forces.

1787 – The Columbia left Boston and began the trip that would make it the first American vessel to sail around the world.

1846 – Ether, an experimental anesthetic at the time, was used for the first time by Dr. William Morton at Massachusetts General Hospital.

1882 – In Appleton, WI, the world’s first hydroelectric power plant began operating.

1938 – The Munich Conference ended with a decision to appease Adolf Hitler. Britain, and France allowed Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland to be annexed by the Nazis.

1946 – An international military tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, found 22 top Nazi leaders guilty of war crimes.

1954 – The U.S. Navy commissioned the Nautilus submarine at Groton, CT. It was the first atomic-powered vessel. The submarine had been launched on January 21, 1954.

1955 – Actor James Dean was killed in a car accident at the age of 24 near Cholame, CA. Dean’s mechanic, who was also in the vehicle, eventually recovered from his injuries.

1976 – California enacted the Natural Death Act of California. The law was the first example of right-to-die legislation in the U.S.

1989 – Non-Communist Cambodian guerrillas claimed that they had captured 3 towns and 10 other positions from the residing government forces.

1997 – France’s Roman Catholic Church apologized for its silence during the persecution and deportation of Jews the pro-Nazi Vichy regime.

September 30, 1949

Berlin Airlift ends

After 15 months and more than 250,000 flights, the Berlin Airlift officially comes to an end. The airlift was one of the greatest logistical feats in modern history and was one of the crucial events of the early Cold War.

In June 1948, the Soviet Union suddenly blocked all ground traffic into West Berlin, which was located entirely within the Russian zone of occupation in Germany. It was an obvious effort to force the United States, Great Britain, and France (the other occupying powers in Germany) to accept Soviet demands concerning the postwar fate of Germany. As a result of the Soviet blockade, the people of West Berlin were left without food, clothing, or medical supplies. Some U.S. officials pushed for an aggressive response to the Soviet provocation, but cooler heads prevailed and a plan for an airlift of supplies to West Berlin was developed. It was a daunting task: supplying the daily wants and needs of so many civilians would require tons of food and other goods each and every day. On June 26, 1948, the Berlin Airlift began with U.S. pilots and planes carrying the lion’s share of the burden. During the next 15 months, 277,264 aircraft landed in West Berlin bringing over 2 million tons of supplies. On September 30, 1949, the last plane–an American C-54–landed in Berlin and unloaded over two tons of coal. Even though the Soviet blockade officially ended in May 1949, it took several more months for the West Berlin economy to recover and the necessary stockpiles of food, medicine, and fuel to be replenished.

The Berlin Airlift was a tremendous Cold War victory for the United States. Without firing a shot, the Americans foiled the Soviet plan to hold West Berlin hostage, while simultaneously demonstrating to the world the “Yankee ingenuity” for which their nation was famous. For the Soviets, the Berlin crisis was an unmitigated disaster. The United States, France, and Great Britain merely hardened their resolve on issues related to Germany, and the world came to see the Russians as international bullies, trying to starve innocent citizens.

“Berlin Airlift ends.” 2008. The History Channel website. 30 Sep 2008, 05:10 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2806.

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