Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ole Miss, from Meredith to Manning

It's true, old times there are not forgotten.

On October 1, 1962, Air Force veteran James Meredith enrolled as the first black student at Ole Miss. It came after months of state defiance and a night of resistance run riot -- federal marshals and troops called in by the thousands, scores of people injured, two shot dead. The nation hears of Molotov cocktails, bayonets drawn, snipers on rooftops.

Skip ahead five years.

A red-headed country boy named Archie Manning is a quarterback on the freshman team. He would become the most heralded player in school history, dazzling viewers in the country's first prime-time college football telecast, a 33-32 loss to Alabama on October 4, 1969.

There's a statue of Meredith at Ole Miss now, walking toward a gateway framed by the words courage, perseverance, opportunity and knowledge.

The campus speed limit? That's Archie's old number.

In the '60s, everybody knew about Ole Miss.

For better and for worse.

-- R. Trentham Roberts