James and Judy Meredith with Richard Howorth
Following the success of his recent appearance on August 30, 2012, when James Meredith spoke to the press and an overflow crowd at Off Square Books, then signed copies of his new book, A Mission from God: A Memoir and Challenge for America (Simon & Schuster, 25.00) and had his picture taken countless times, for a total of nearly four hours, the famous Mississippian returned to Oxford on Saturday, September 15, and signed many more books (now available at Square Books).
Mr. Meredith again spoke to us passionately of his ambitions for Mississippi, explicated in his book -- the necessity and hope for a better education for Mississippi's children, the independence from government, the role of church and family in our culture, and his belief that "Mississippi shall one day be -- not on the bottom, but on top." But he had additional reasons to return to Oxford -- the Ole Miss - Texas football game. So he donned his red shirt and Rebel baseball cap and joined a distinguished group of alums in the Chancellor's box, where ESPN cameras found him, naturally, rooting for the home team. "Right now, I just want to be ahead at half-time," he said at one point.
Once half-time began, just before the 1962 undefeated Ole Miss team was honored on the field, Chancellor Dan Jones quickly gathered a crowd inside and spoke: "Everyone here is special. But tonight we honor someone who changed our University, our state, and our nation, and made them, and all of us, better...." James Meredith didn't quite get his wish for the football game, nor has he got his wish for Mississippi's achievement. But he remains determinedly hopeful for the prospects of both the team and Mississippi. As he should, warrior that he is. RH