A Sense of Where We Are: Oxford Town

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

View Westward Expansion in a larger map

Oxford, Mississippi—Expect a longer post on Oxford; it may be the single most complex and fascinating place we’ve stopped in the South. For now, though, I’ll just offer up a question: In the last half century of American history, has anyone had a more improbable career arc than James Meredith?

After successfully becoming the first black student at Ole Miss in 1962 and then getting shot while walking across the state, Meredith went on to work for bigoted North Carolina senator Jesse Helms, and endorsed KKK leader David Duke’s campaign for governor of Louisiana. The closest comparable I can think of would be Eldridge Cleaver—from Black Panther icon to protege of Glenn Beck’s idol, W. Cleon Skousen—but I’m not sure that really comes close. Anyways, let me know who I’ve missed in the comments.

We Recommend


Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.