Day 14: Oxford town

Birmingham, AL to Oxford, MS

Weather nicer today, cloudy and cooler. Driving west, and it’s getting more hilly. I entered Mississippi, the 13th state I’ve visited on this trip.

View from the welcome rest area

Oxford, home of the U. of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”) is leafy and beautiful. I got to the Graduate Hotel. Love the lobby with its pink floors.

Lobby, Graduate Hotel Oxford

This hotel is designed to a fare-thee-well.

I’m staying in the historical town center – it’s very charming.

Lafayette County courthouse and stores

The square was burned by Union troops during the Civil War and rebuilt after.

Went to Square Books, a great bookstore. They have an extensive Faulkner section. He lived here for most of his life and is kind of a patron saint around here. Oxford is my kind of town.

Took a walk to the campus, as far as the statue of James Meredith.

Ceremonial gate of the Ole Miss campus
James Meredith statue on campus

Meredith, an African American, applied to Ole Miss in 1962. His entrance was barred by both university officials and the state’s governor. The governor vowed to disobey a federal court order to admit Meredith. The Kennedy Administration was determined that he be enrolled.

On October 1, a violent segregationist mob of 3,000 rioted on campus in an attempt to bar Meredith. After a night, the disturbance was put down by 30,000 federal troops. Two bystanders were killed and 300 injured, including federal marshals. Meredith enrolled and graduated. Troops protected him the entire time he attended. (Source: Wikipedia).

Another historic marker said that the first buildings on campus were constructed by slaves. The enslaved did both unskilled and skilled labor, including masonry, carpentry, woodcarving, blacksmithing, and making bricks.

Neither fraternities nor football were important on NYU’s campus when I was an undergrad there. But here, they are.

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