God’s Ways Are Not Our Ways

 By Al Baker - Posted at Forget None Of His Benefits:

“. . . how unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways.” – Romans 11:33

The 1962 Ole Miss Rebels football team, led by their great quarterback Glynn Griffing, won their first game of the season on September 22 against Memphis State University (now called University of Memphis) by a score of 21 to 7. Ole Miss would go on to have an undefeated season, the only one in their illustrious history, plowing through all their opponents on their way to a 10 and 0 season, including a win over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. The AP and UPI polls had Ole Miss finish at number three in the nation while a lesser poll, the Billingsley Report, had them as national champions.

Whilet Ole Miss was winning week by week, dominating their opponents by giving up only 53 points for the season while scoring 247 points, the campus was in turmoil. The 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown vs. the Board of Education, rendered unconstitutional the southern “separate but equal” approach to public education, keeping black and white students in separate schools. This was the practice in Mississippi and other southern states. Mississippi had refused to integrate their schools and by 1961 all public schools, including colleges and universities, were still segregated. James Meredith, a nine year air force veteran, had been attending the all black school, Jackson State University, but he wanted to test the waters of segregation. He believed he was on a mission from God. He applied as a student to Ole Miss, the elite university in Mississippi, in January, 1961. However, after informing the enrollment office that he was black, the university “slow walked” his application. By January, 1962 Ole Miss had still not acted upon Meredith’s application so he sued the university. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, ruled against Meredith who appealed to the Supreme Court. In early September of 1962 the Court overruled the Fifth Circuit and the Justice Department consequently mandated that Ole Miss immediately receive Meredith as a student. President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, held several phone conversations with Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett in the months leading up to the Supreme Court decision. Barnett generally placated the Kennedys while speaking with them, but when talking to his constituency he sang a different tune. On the night of September 29, 1962 at halftime of the Kentucky vs. Ole Miss game in Jackson, Ross Barnett stirred up the crowd with a fifteen word speech where he proclaimed to fans, “I love Mississippi. I love her people. Our customs. I love and respect our heritage.” A few nights earlier Barnett was on statewide television stating emphatically that he would never allow the integration of state schools as long as he was governor.