June 6, 1966, In His Actions, My Words, James Meredith
June 6, 1966, 51 years ago today will go down in black history as one the most courageous, heroic days in the annals of American History. You see in the State of Tennessee, in the City of Memphis, James Meredith started his 220-mile journey from Memphis, Tennessee to the Jackson, Mississippi. It was going to be James Meredith’s singular act against the rabid racism that enveloped the State of Mississippi. It was a March Against Fear, an action that defined James Meredith’s life as an advocate for racial justice and racial equality. James intended to start the March alone or with a few men to show those who promoted racial injustice that the Blackman was no longer afraid of the acts of terrorism being perpetuated against him. He intended to march directly into the belly of the beast of white supremacy to advocate justice and appeal to blacks along the march to register to vote and to join him in his journey. He didn’t want children, or women he specifically addressed Black Men to join him on this quest for equality.
One day into the March Against Fear on a highway just as he crossed the Mississippi state line, James Meredith was shot by a white racist who deemed this March as an affront against the white code of conduct excepted by blacks which were total compliance to the code of supremacy. James Aubrey Novell used a buckshot loaded rifle in his attempt to murder James Meredith on June 6, 1966, 51 years ago today. The March Against Fear had not really gained the popularity of Selma March in 1965. Nor did James Meredith want the March to have that sort of hyped media coverage. James Meredith was making a statement and standing singularity against white repression and oppression. However, the shooting that occurred on this day 51 years ago changed the total dynamics of the March Against Fear. You see James Meredith didn’t solicit support from any of the major Civil Rights Groups, like SNCC, SCLC, NAACP, or CORE prior to the March. James Meredith was a different kind of black man. He was reclusive in many ways but he was also fearless in other ways. Wasn’t it James Meredith who integrated the sacred state University of Mississippi in 1962? James Meredith walks to his own drum beat and he heard the cannons calling for this action regarding this March.
Yet, after he was shot on June 6, 1966. The groups that avoided took over the March Against Fear, SNCC, SCLC, and CORE decided to complete James Meredith’s journey from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi. In doing so the entire dynamics of the black struggle for civil rights would change. You see during the March Against Fear, Stokely Carmichael, introduced the two dramatic words that shifted the civil rights movement from direct non-violent action to a movement for Black Power. Had not James Meredith been shot on a highway leading into the state of Mississippi on June 6, 1966, we would not have heard those 2 words spoken in Greenwood, Mississippi by Stokely Carmichael. So whatever one may think of James Meredith’s impact on the struggle for our civil and social rights. No one can question the fearlessness of Mr. Meredith that motivated the move for him to singularly confront the beast of racism and bigotry in June of 1966. So today, in my words, his actions I salute the bravery and power of James Meredith. The man behind the March Against Fear who took a shot 51 years ago today in our efforts to achieve social, human, and civil rights.