This book is really messing with me. I am just in shock that things like this actually happened on American soil and that it has been swept under the carpet. There are lots of people still alive who must remember the Battle of Oxford, when Federal Troops occupied the college campus; when rednecks, klan members, and trouble makers from across the nation gathered to overthrow the federal government in Mississippi; when U.S. Marshals, National Guard, U.S. Army and a couple of incredible ministers battled it out with thousands of riots, shooting tear gas at point blank range, protecting each other with unloaded weapons, marching through fire to reinforce the already present troops, and plead with individual students to hand over their bricks, rocks, bottles, etc and go on home, respectively. How could this be forgotten? How is it possible that this story has surprised me so? Did my grandparents hear about this on the news? Was the cover-up so good that unless you were there, you didn’t even know about it?
The rioters destroyed cameras and beat up press members so there are very few photographs of the beginning stages of the riot and none of the full blown affair.
I am also shocked at the amateurishness of the President, his aides, and Governor Bennet, of Mississippi.
There were moments of heroism. The Army Commanders recieved orders to leave their black troops behind, to avoid further offending the Southerners. This division of the Army was fully integrated and removing the blacks from the group would cripple it, removing most of the sergeants and many others in key positions, not to mention seeing to defeat the purpose of the whole thing. The Commander tore up the orders and the seven confirmation order and disobeying a direct order from the President of the United States of America, sent all of their troops into the fray. The Mississippi National Guard were federalized and ordered in to support the U.S. Marshals and attempt to end the riot. No one was sure how many troops would obey orders to march on their fellow Mississippians but not one man defected. They, as a whole, knew that they were Americans first and that law was law. They were Army today and they would follow orders as duty required. They didn’t like it but they obeyed and acted as true soldiers.
Oh, by the way, I don’t know if I ever explained what this was all about. An Air Force veteran wanted to enroll in the University of Mississippi, a.k.a. Ole’ Miss. He was honorably discharged from the Air Force and had promoted as he should. The only problem? He was black. The problem wasn’t even that he wasn’t white; Asians and Mexicans and other nationalities were welcome at Ole’ Miss but blacks were not. After two months of “negotiations” between the Governor and the federal government, which consisted mainly of the governor promising certain things to the Attorney General and other things to his constituents, and consistently breaking his promises to the Attorney General and the President himself, things escalated due to more lies, manipulations and basic stupidity by all parties involved.
Well, I need to get to bed. We have a big day tomorrow and I must sleep.