Interview with Constance Baker Motley
QUESTION 18
INTERVIEWER:

COULD YOU GIVE US A DESCRIPTION FROM YOUR POINT OF VIEW OF JAMES MEREDITH, PERSONALLY?

Judge Constance Baker Motley:

I think James Meredith had planned to be the Mississippian who would knock first on the door of the University of Mississippi. He spent nine years in the armed forces in the Air Force particularly before he actually made that application. He knew that he was not qualified initially so that while he was in the armed services he took every course available to servicemen, starting at the high school level because he didn't qualify for college level courses. And after he convinced himself, that he had the academic ability, he took difficult courses like Chinese history and Russian grammar as I recall when he was stationed in Japan, at the University of Maryland's Far East extension program. And once he convinced himself, as I've said, that he had the academic qualifications then he left the service and moved back to Mississippi from which he had been absent for nine years and made his application, of course with the aid of Medgar Evers who was the NAACP field secretary at that time. A lot of the Mississippians believed that we sought out James Meredith and paid him to do this, but that's not true at all, it was his idea and his own preparation of himself which gave him the strength, the individual strength and endurance to see the thing through.