James Meredith shot


First African-American student at the University of Mississippi, James Meredith was a reviled figure. During a voter registration march (the March Against Fear) for the African-Americans on June 6th 1967, he was ambushed by the white supremacists who shouted, “I just want James Meredith!” The sniper fire by Aubrey James Norvell hit him in the head, neck, back and legs.

A novice photographer for AP, Jim Thornell was on the scene for the voter registration march and he took two rolls of pictures. He then drove back to Memphis in a panic, convinced he would be fired for failing to photograph both the assailant and the victim. Minutes passed before an ambulance reached Meredith, who lay in the road alone, shouting “Isn’t anyone going to help me?”. The photo (and the event itself) was a flash point in the American civil rights movement. It united and galvanized the scattered civil rights movement. The photo won the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in 1967.

Meredith himself survived, and made several attempts to be elected to Congress as a Republican. Increasingly conservative, he accused liberal whites of being “the greatest enemy” of African Americans, opposed economic sanctions against South Africa and making Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a national holiday.

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