MAILED: Feb. 1, 2001
Civil rights icon James Meredith will speak at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Thursday, Feb. 15.
The Forum will present Merediths lecture, titled Celebrating the Dream, at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena. A question-and-answer session and a reception will follow the formal presentation.
Born June 25, 1933, in Kosciusko, Miss., Meredith served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951 to 1960, including a tour of duty in Japan. He attended Jackson State College for two years. He then risked his life to apply the laws of racial integration in 1962, when he tried to register at the University of Mississippi. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered his admission, but state officials refused to abide by the ruling and barred his entrance. After a night of riots in which two people were killed, Meredith finally was admitted. Federal troops stayed on at Ole Miss to protect Meredith until he graduated in 1963.
Meredith recounted his experiences in Three Years in Mississippi (1966). A Newsweek magazine reviewer wrote that seldom is a piece of violent history so dispassionately dissected by one of its participants as it has been by James Meredith. … Part report and part legal brief, part manifesto, part tract, it is a valuable and fascinating account.
Shortly after the books publication he began The March Against Fear, an individual act to assert the right of all African-Americans to move across the South unmolested. He set out to prove he could conquer his own fear by walking safely from Memphis, Tenn., to Jackson, Miss., encouraging those along the way to take the physical risk of registering to vote. A sniper shot Meredith in Mississippi, but 10 days later, on July 4, he completed his march with Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders beside him.
While a student at Columbia University Law School, Meredith worked as a stockbroker, in real estate and as an investor. After receiving his law degree in 1968 he became president of Meredith Enterprises, lectured on race relations, was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives (1972), and began a surprising stint on the staff of archconservative Sen. Jesse Helms in 1989. He now heads the James Meredith Institute.
Enigmatic and controversial, Meredith will recall his experiences as a pioneer in the civil rights movement and will speak of his continued efforts to improve literacy, promote higher education, cultivate future leaders and empower community citizenship.
Admission is $7 for the public; $5 for those age 62 and older and UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff; or $3 for those age 17 and younger and UW-Eau Claire students. Tickets are available at the University Service Center in Davies Center and will be sold at the door.
Patrons also may charge their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when they order by phone. Call the University Service Center, (715) 836-3727 or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free (800) 949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.
During his visit to UW-Eau Claire Meredith and members of his institute also will take part in activities associated with Black History Month:
- Meredith will participate in a panel discussion on education and diversity from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, in Davies Theatre of Davies Center.
Admission to both of these events is free and open to all.
- Members of the James Meredith Institute Theater Group will present The Hip-Hop Generation Meets History at noon Thursday, Feb. 15, in The Cabin, Davies Center. Filled with the spirit of hope and empowerment of those who have created history including Harriet Tubman, Duke Ellington, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Angela Davis and Mahalia Jackson the diverse, educational presentation features music by Sweet Honey in the Rock, The Sounds of Blackness, 2 Pac Shurkur, KRS 1 and Public Enemy.
The Forum is made possible by student funds allocated by the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Feb. 1, 2001