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New Ole Miss scholarship honors legacy of James Meredith

The school said the scholarship was established to "contribute to Mr. Meredith's legacy and memorialize his presence at the university."

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The University of Mississippi has a new scholarship honoring Civil Rights icon James Meredith as the college celebrates the 60th anniversary of his enrollment at Ole Miss.

Ole Miss alum Dr. J. Steven Blake, a physician in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, established the James H. Meredith Legacy Scholarship Fund, according to school leaders. A crowdfunding campaign at Ignite Ole Miss has been launched to donate to the fund.

The school said the scholarship was established to "contribute to Mr. Meredith's legacy and memorialize his presence at the university."

"I am a believer in giving back. Because I have so much respect for the challenges he endured so that other African Americans could attend the University of Mississippi, I was inspired to begin this scholarship fund,” said Dr. Blake.

RELATED: University of Mississippi honoring James Meredith for 60th anniversary of his enrollment

Meredith served 10 years in the Air Force before returning to his home state of Mississippi to attend school. He applied in January 1961 but was denied, and then filed suit with the help of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1962 that Meredith was to be admitted, and after then-Governor Ross Barnett continued to block admission, U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy stepped in. Meredith formally enrolled Sept. 10, 1962, amid a riot on campus.

Federal marshals remained on campus for a year to keep Meredith safe. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in August 1963, and earned an LL.B. from Columbia Law School in 1968.

Meredith was inducted into the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame in 2018. His late son, Joseph Meredith, and a granddaughter also graduated from the university.

"I am thrilled to hear that this scholarship is being introduced," said Jasmine Meredith, of Dallas, who earned a master's degree in integrated marketing communication from UM this year. "Sixty years later, my grandfather is still making an impact at the university and on students and their opportunity to earn their education. Financial hardships are tough no matter who you are, and this financial scholarship will be a relief to the individuals who are awarded. Thank you, Dr. Blake, for thinking of our future (the students) and honoring my grandfather in the process. The Meredith legacy continues – and what a powerful legacy that is."

Ole Miss is holding several events this week, and over the next year, to celebrate and honor Meredith’s legacy.

RELATED: Civil Rights Icon James Meredith marches with the Peabody ducks as honorary Duckmaster

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