Black & White

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Date Submitted: 09/12/2012 07:46 AM

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Black and White

The 1962 integration of the University of Mississippi by James Meredith represented a challenge of the social constructs that had defined the racial identity of many white southerners. This identity had been exclusively synonymous with a higher quality of employment, housing, and education. The movement embodied in Meredith’s efforts to obtain one of those privileges was well documented by the national media as one commentator in the described “the last gasp of the civil war.” However, underneath the apparent unified resistance of Mississippians and neighboring southerners, there were a variety of viewpoints , fears, and erroneous stereotypes that easily were overshadowed by the generalized sentiment of “We don’t want negroes in our school.” The national media depicted rejection of black integration into Mississippi schools by racist central protagonist and there supporters as the sole theme of the conflict, but they failed to incorporate the perspectives of those who took on the roles of passive bystanders and dissenters .

The dominant narrative represented in the “Fighting Back” segment of The Eyes on the Prize was the total resistance and rejections of blacks as equal counterparts in higher education in the south. The sentiment was collected from the popular Jeffersonian belief amongst whites that their whiteness was a distinct trait of superiority to the identity blacks, a innately inferior race. This inferiority was the reasoning behind deficient housing, education, and employments for blacks, and denial of access into institutions and organizations deemed a component of white America; the interference of blacks into these institutions were seen as desecrations. Because these beliefs had been adopted as tradition, Meredith’s entrance into the flagship University of Mississippi was an unthinkable act of defiance against the system of white exclusion.

The viewpoint of racist central protagonist dominated the image of the...