Interview with John Doar


John Doar:

Well after I, uh, after I brought James Meredith into the university and got him settled at the quarters where he was going to stay, where his room, where his room was, then I went down to the Lyceum building and uh, at that time the marshals had formed a, a line around two and a half sides of the building, shoulder to shoulder. And there was a, a crowd of, of students, uh, in the road next to the, er, maybe six or eight feet from the marshals, uh, on the outer perimeter of this square. And uh, the, the students were shouting and and hollering at the marshals and trying to get them upset and ruffled, and the marshals were just standing there, they were in, they had helmets and, and uh, I think uh, it was about dusk, and, uh, then, uh… as usually happened in one of those demonstrations somebody would push forward and bump into a marshal, and, and then it, the st-, they started to uh, to get mean and get ugly. And it got dark. And, uh, uh, the uh… the, the marshals did a very excellent job of, of keeping cool and, and, and preserving the building and not getting overrun, uh, and you could sense that there was a, getting to be more of a, more of a buildup, uh, of uh, people coming on to the University, not just students, but outsiders, and you could tell if you went back in the Lyceum building and listen to the radio that there was a, the radio was going every five minutes about what was happening at Oxford, and you could sense that people were moving into Oxford from all over Mississippi. And, uh, uh, there was some gunfire and some, of course, tear gas, and, and uh it was a, a, mean night, and the uh, as I recall the state Highway Patrol was there for a little while, and they, they moved out or they did something that didn't help the situation at all, and, and of course the orders had come for the National Guard and for the… General Abrams to come down from, from Memphis, but that took considerably longer than, than had been hoped for, and it was, uh, uh, not a good night, and it was uh the response of the, of the federal authorities to the increased violence was, was, uh, uh, not as uh, as rapid as it might have been.