50 Years after “I Have a Dream” speech

jamesmeredithwarriorJames Meredith: Warrior and the America that created him

CHAPTER 11 Closing the Economic Disparities in the Twenty-First Century

“You should let no excuse stand in your way.” —James Howard

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, Mississippi had more black elected officials than any state in the United States but few judges of color. Nationally, the wealth gap had widened instead of closed since James Meredith became the first black student to graduate from the University of Mississippi on August 18, 1963. James Meredith’s legal battle from 1961 to 62 had successfully broken Mississippi’s integration policies; he had been a warrior for humanity; he had launched the Meredith Walk Against Fear where he had been gunned down on the second day; he also walked from Chicago to New York in 1966 to oppose northern defacto desegregation; he had written 26 books, presented lectures, documented racial problems, and used his voice throughout his lifetime to further American race relations. Half a century after Meredith integrated Ole Miss, the state of black America is still in crisis mode. In 1969, General Motors was the country’s largest employer, and AT&T enjoyed a government-guaranteed monopoly on phone service. GM’s chief executive, James M. Roche, earned $795,000, the equivalent of $4.2 million today, but GM workers were paid well too. pg 143