On September 21, 2022, Aram Goudsouzian, Vijay Shah, and James Meredith presented “Man on a Mission: James Meredith and the Battle of Ole Miss” as part of the History Is Lunch series.
In 1962, James Meredith desegregated the University of Mississippi—an action that was delayed by political maneuvering at the state and local levels and met with deadly violence when it did finally happen. Federal marshals and the National Guard were sent by President John F. Kennedy to try and maintain order amidst the rioting on campus and in Oxford. Now Meredith’s story is being told in a new graphic novel by author Goudsouzian, editor Shah, and artist Bill Murray and published by the University of Arkansas Press.
“Man on a Mission depicts Mr. Meredith’s relentless pursuit of justice, beginning with his childhood in rural Mississippi and culminating with the confrontation at Ole Miss,” said Goudsouzian. “This graphic history tells the dramatic story in his own singular voice.”
Robert E. Luckett Jr., director of the Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University, wrote that “Iconic civil rights activist James Meredith always took unorthodox risks to challenge white supremacy. Man on a Mission ensures that a new generation will grow up knowing him, understanding his motivations and grappling with his complex legacy.”
Aram Goudsouzian is the Bizot Family Professor of History and director of the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities at the University of Memphis. He earned his BA in history from Colby College, his MA in history from the University of Massachusetts, and his PhD in history from Purdue University. Goudsouzian is the author of five books, including The Men and the Moment: The Election of 1968 and the Rise of Partisan Politics in America and Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March against Fear and is co-editor with Charles W. McKinney Jr. of An Unseen Light: Black Struggles for Freedom in Memphis, Tennessee.
Independent scholar Vijay Shah was acquisitions editor for the University Press of Mississippi from 2013 to 2019. Shah earned his BA in history from Reed College and his MA in social sciences from the University of Chicago.
History Is Lunch is sponsored by the John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The weekly lecture series of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History explores different aspects of the state's past. The hour-long programs are held in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum building at 222 North Street in Jackson and livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook