Interview with Constance Baker Motley
QUESTION 26
INTERVIEWER:

EVENTUALLY THE KENNEDY ADMINISTRATION DID ENTER THE MEREDITH CASE AS A FRIEND OF COURT. THEY SENT THE MARSHALS IN AND SO FORTH. BUT DID YOU OR DID MR. MEREDITH FEEL THAT IF THEY'D ACTED SOONER, IF THEY'D BEEN MORE FORCEFUL IN THEIR ACTION, MIGHT HAVE AVOIDED SOME OF THE ANTAGONISM OR EVEN THE BLOODSHED?

Judge Constance Baker Motley:

Well, I doubt that. I think that even if the government had come in earlier into the case, we probably would have run into the same kind of resistance. You have to understand that everyone expected that Mississippi would resist. Mississippi had long been the state which offered the most resistance since the Civil War to the idea of equality for blacks. You may recall that after the civil war, blacks were in control of the government of the state of Mississippi and the whites of the state resented that very such and when they were finally able to displace the Reconstruction government, which was predominantly black, they vowed that blacks would never again be in control of that government, and since blacks were I think the majority of the state's population at that time, the whites offered a great deal of resistance to the idea of ending segregation. So it wasn't a surprise at all that Mississippi would offer resistance. The government knew it, we knew it and so the government was hoping like everybody else, I guess they'd never have to face this. But ultimately they did and ultimately, as you know, President Kennedy had to send in federal troops to secure James Meredith's admission.