Separate, but Not Equal

The Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling against “separate but equal” education in the Brown v. Topeka Board of Education signaled a serious federal challenge to segregation. A few years after the ruling, the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) was the first public university in the state to desegregate. In 1962, James Meredith became the first black student to be admitted to the school. On the evening that he enrolled, a riot broke out leaving two people dead and over 100 injured. Thousands of U.S. marshals, national guardsmen, and federal troops were called in to quell the violence. By comparison, the desegregation process at the other all-white, public institutions in the state proceeded without major disruption.

With Ole Miss fraternity houses for a backdrop, US Army trucks loaded with steel-helmeted US Marshals roll across the University of Mississippi campus, October 3, 1962.
Library of Congress. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.