Interview with Myrlie Evers
QUESTION 30
INTERVIEWER:

DESCRIBE FOR ME JAMES MEREDITH. AND TELL ME WHAT MADE HIM TICK, WHAT KEPT HIM GOING THROUGH THIS, THAT TIME.

Myrlie Evers:

James Meredith, I found, was a complicated person. He was not a person where you could get to know the inner depth of him right away. He and Medgar were friends, and they had to be friends and, and have a close working relationship in his efforts, in Meredith's efforts to try to get into Old Miss. I would say that James had a kind of self assuredness, a mission, a sense of mission and responsibility and duty, and he carried it off in what some of us thought as a kind of cocky manner. And I think more than anything, that was a kind of facade to steel himself against all of the abuse, physically possibly, as well as verbal, and mental, that he would go through once on campus, and everything that he was trying to go, that he was going through to try to get to Old Miss. A—

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

TWENTY-THREE, TAKE TWENTY-THREE.

Orlando Bagwell:

OK, SO TALK TO ME A LITTLE MORE ABOUT JAMES MEREDITH AND THE PRESSURE—

Myrlie Evers:

James Meredith was under a tremendous amount of pressure as he tried to enter Old Miss. Pressure from I think his friends and family because we were concerned about his health and his well being. That was certainly discussed when we, when we met and broke bread together. But the press itself, the media, pursued him endlessly, perhaps more once he entered Old Miss, but even before that time. He was a kind of celebrity that did not necessarily have the glamour behind it. People wanted to know who he was, what he was doing, where he came from, his background. And I always felt that James was a very private person. He was not one to talk or brag about himself that much. And he didn't share that much of himself. It was difficult to kind of cut through. I can recall being surprised just seeing him smile and laugh at times when we were gathered together, you know, on a very informal basis. The pressures were tremendous but I think that the facade that he would present to the public was one that was somewhat cold, somewhat cocky, but it was necessary to do that in order to protect himself, 'cause after all, he was a human being with feelings, with fear**, so—and he had a commitment and a job to do, and that was his best way to do it.