ATLANTA–Civil rights pioneer and author James Meredith will deliver the Founders Lecture, “Public Education: The Critical Civil Rights Issue of Our Time,” at Georgia State University on Wednesday, Oct. 25.
The lecture, free and open to the public, will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Centennial Hall Auditorium (100 Auburn Ave. NE). The talk is hosted by the Honors College and is in honor of Lonnie C. King Jr., chairman of the Atlanta Student Movement from 1960-61 and civil rights activist.
Meredith was one of the key figures in the Civil Rights Movement and continues to work for equality. In 1961, spurred to action by President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, Meredith sought to become the first African American to enroll at the University of Mississippi. After having his application rejected twice because of his race, Meredith enrolled at the University of Mississippi and in August 1963 graduated with a degree in political science.
Meredith continued to be a central figure in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1966, he orchestrated the March Against Fear, a 220-mile walk from Memphis, Tenn., to Jackson, Miss., intended to encourage blacks to register and vote.
Meredith has continued to speak out on the central role education plays in helping to lift people out of poverty. His most recent book, “A Mission from God: A Memoir and Challenge for America,” reflects on Meredith’s personal life but also dares Americans to overhaul the public education system so all people can overcome poverty.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. placed Meredith first on his list of heroes in his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” writing: “Some day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, courageously and with a majestic sense of purpose facing jeering and hostile mobs and the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer.”
“Meredith has committed his life to social justice and public education,” said Larry Berman, founding dean of the Honors College. “He is a man whose legendary life has been defined by the courage to take action. We are honored that our campus and community will have the opportunity to hear from such a remarkable historical figure.”