College Integration

What students gained national attention for the efforts to integrate colleges in the South?

After three-and-a-half-years of legal efforts on the part of the NAACP, Autherine Juanita Lucy (Foster) (1929–) became the first black student admitted to the University of Alabama, on February 3, 1956. A riot followed, and she was suspended that evening. She was expelled on February 29, accused of making “false” and “outrageous” statements about the school.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault (1942–) and Hamilton Earl Holmes (1941–1995) were the first black students to enroll at the University of Georgia, on January 10, 1961. Students rioted in protest of their admission, and they were temporarily suspended in the interest of their safety. Nevertheless, both students graduated from the institution in 1963.

In 1962, the first black admitted to the University of Mississippi was U.S. Air Force veteran James Howard Meredith (1933–). Meredith was admitted after being denied admission three times. Although the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Meredith’s admission, Governor Ross R. Barnett defied the decision. United States marshals were called to escort Meredith to classes on October 1, and federal troops were called out to quell disturbances. They remained on campus to protect Meredith until he graduated on August 18, 1963, with a bachelor’s degree in political science.


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