Robert F. Kennedy Calls Governor of Mississippi and related media

Robert F. Kennedy Calls Governor of Mississippi

On September 29, 1962, as measures are taken to safely transport James Meredith to the University of Mississippi where he will enroll in accordance with a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding desegregation of the institution, President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy make a series of phone calls to Gov. Ross Barnett who has openly defied the Court's ruling. Attorney General Kennedy gets exasperated when the governor shoots down his idea for crowd control.

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Related Speeches & Audio (10)

  • Robert F. Kennedy Calls Governor of Mississippi
    Robert F. Kennedy Calls Governor of Mississippi

    Audio Clip (4:12)

    On September 29, 1962, as measures are taken to safely transport James Meredith to the University of Mississippi where he will enroll in accordance with a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding desegregation of the institution, President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy make a series of phone calls to Gov. Ross Barnett who has openly defied the Court's ruling. Attorney General Kennedy gets exasperated when the governor shoots down his idea for crowd control.

    Audio Clip (4:12)
  • John F. Kennedy on Desegregation at Ole Miss
    John F. Kennedy on Desegregation at Ole Miss

    Audio Clip (3:18)

    When Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett refused to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling demanding desegregation at the University of Mississippi and the admittance of James Meredith, President John F. Kennedy was forced to intervene. In his address to the nation on September 30, 1962, Kennedy explains his decision to federalize the state national guard in order to maintain law and order while Meredith registers at the college.

    Audio Clip (3:18)
  • John F. Kennedy Intervenes in James Meredith Case
    John F. Kennedy Intervenes in James Meredith Case

    Audio Clip (4:38)

    In defiance of the Supreme Court ruling that the University of Mississippi desegregate and allow James Meredith to attend, Gov. Ross Barnett physically blocked the African-American student from entering the building to register on September 20, 1962. Nine days later, President John F. Kennedy telephones Barnett to persuade him to cooperate with the Court's ruling. Barnett does little to reassure Kennedy, and attempts to pawn off the decision on his lawyer friend Tom Watkins.

    Audio Clip (4:38)
  • John F. Kennedy Appeals to Mississippi Governor
    John F. Kennedy Appeals to Mississippi Governor

    Audio Clip (3:42)

    After many unfruitful telephone conversations with Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett, President John F. Kennedy calls the governor one more time to discuss the building tension over James Meredith’s impending registration at the University of Mississippi. Though the governor has made clear his opposition to the Supreme Court order to allow Meredith to attend the school, President Kennedy tries to assess whether the governor will maintain law and order when Meredith arrives.

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    On May 17, 1954, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren delivered the unanimous ruling against the "separate but equal" mandate and demanded desegregation of schools. Outside the courtroom, the attorneys who argued the Brown v. Board of Education case, James Nabrit Jr., Thurgood Marshall and George Hayes, give a press conference.

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