Remember, my grandfather was partly responsible for committing Clennon King Jr., a black man, to Whitfield, the Mississippi mental institution due to Clennon’s attempt to enroll at the University of Mississippi. That was in 1958.
In 1962, James Meredith became the first black man to enroll at the University of Mississippi. In December 1962, Bob Dylan recorded the song “Oxford Town” about him. At the time, Dylan was still an up-and-coming musician and Meredith was one of the most hated and admired men in America.
He went down to Oxford Town
Guns and clubs followed him down
All because his face was brown
Better get away from Oxford Town
Meredith is alive today and lives in Jackson, MS with his wife, Judy. This article tells more of their journey, A New Mississippi
If you haven’t heard the blues song he refers to in the article, take a listen: Shake Your Money Maker
Let’s keep fighting for justice!
If you go looking, you may not like what you find. I decided to google my deceased paternal grandfather. He was chancery clerk of Hinds county (Jackson, MS) in 1958. I always felt he was not a totally honest man. He often kept to himself in his room when we visited his house. I never had any one on one time with him as a young child. He was not a hands on kind of grandfather.
I found a congressional record. It is written exactly a year before I was born. It stated, “June 7, 1958: King was committed on June 6th to Whitfield State Mental Hospital for a period of observation to last a minimum of 30 days. Examination by the two Hinds County doctors was by Chancery Clerk Frank Scott following a statement by Gov. J.P. Coleman who declared King “went berserk” during his attempt at entry to the University Thursday. Coleman said that if the mental examination shows King is sane, he will be tried on charges of disturbing the peace and resisting arrest on the Ole Miss campus at Oxford.” Yes, Clennon King was a black man. More on Clennon King Jr.
In 1962, James Meredith became the first black man to be admitted to the University of Mississippi.
My grandfather was part of this unjust system. I am not surprised, but heartbroken. So many emotions around this. My family has a history and continues to hide behind appearances. If it’s ugly don’t discuss, if it’s uncomfortable don’t go there. I’ve been the one in the family to go “berserk” over injustices and yes deemed insane by them.
Today I feel a little paralyzed learning this. However, it will also fuel me to continue the fight for bringing justice where it is due.
Complete Congressional Record