Interview with Judge Charles Clark
QUESTION 23
INTERVIEWER:

UM, FINALLY IN THE FIFTH CIRCUIT COURT ROOM, NOW WE'VE GONE THROUGH THE TRIAL PROCEEDINGS, WE'VE LOOKED AT THAT, WE'RE INTO THE APPEALS PROCEEDING WE'RE AT THE END OF IT, YOUR CLIENTS WERE TOLD THAT THEY HAD TO AGREE TO COMPLY WITH THE RULING UM, OR BE JAILED. COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT, WHAT THEIR REACTION WAS, UM, AND WHERE THAT LEFT YOU AT THAT POINT?

Judge Charles Clark:

Well, at that exact point, at the point where the court had ordered Meredith to be admitted, uh the entire matter was settled in the court house and as a matter of, of to show you what a small world is, actually settled in the office that I now occupy in the fifth circuit court of appeals. But the board met there in a, on a brief adjournment of the court uh and came back and said uh that they would comply. I can remember very well because I remember one of the judges on the court said, uh Mr. Clark we've heard you argue extensively here today about legal propositions, but said the question that I've got to ask you is will your clients admit James Meredith to the University or not? And I can remember well I'll have to have a recess and confer with my clients about that. We did confer, we came back and the board said, as you know that uh, they would admit Meredith to the University and would make plans to register him in Jackson so that it would be very quiet and could he done in an orderly fashion and the court permitted that and uh the board made up its mind very quickly that there was going to be no question of defiance uh about admitting Meredith once the court had made the order that he should be admitted. Uh, in the weeks before that though, I can recall meeting with my clients, the board of trustees and I can recall a great deal of, of pressure on them from the Governor's office. Uh, stand fast; do not ever indicate that you will make this concession. That you will admit this man to the university, that you don't think is qualified. And the board kept exploring, the members of the board would keep saying "Well, now what? Why do you say this? How can we do this? It would be against the law." And the message would come back from the Governor's office, not to me or through me and I've never heard the governor himself speak the words but don't worry I have a plan. Well, when the board finally faced the court and the court said you must admit him, uh (loud thud) the board said we will.