Interview with Constance Baker Motley
QUESTION 29
INTERVIEWER:

WERE THERE ANY ACTIONS THAT YOU THINK THE GOVERNMENTI THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT COULD HAVE TAKEN DIFFERENTLY THAT WOULD HAVE AVOIDED THE RIOTS THAT NIGHT?

Judge Constance Baker Motley:

I think that what happened when James Meredith finally went to the University of Mississippi the night of the riot, when three or four people were killed, resulted.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

STOP….

Judge Constance Baker Motley:

I think what really happened the night that James Meredith was, Meredith was finally admitted to the University of Mississippi when a couple of people were killed was that the state officials reneged on a promise that they had made to see that the state troops kept the peace. And I think that the attorney general and perhaps the president were relying on an agreement that they thought they had reached to that effect. And when the state troops failed to appear and to keep people from being violent, of course Meredith had to be withdrawn and ultimately federal troops had to appear there if he was to actually enter. And it was that failure of the state to protect Meredith which caused the federal government to have to send troops in, which was the last thing that anybody wanted in Mississippi, but they, I think in effect brought it on themselves by failing to, themselves, protect the rights of one of their citizens.