Interview with Constance Baker Motley
QUESTION 42
INTERVIEWER:

YOU DESCRIBED JAMES MEREDITH'S HISTORY FOR US, BUT I WONDER IF YOU COULD DESCRIBE HIM FOR US AS A PERSON. PHYSICALLY, WHAT MADE HIM TICK DO YOU THINK?

Judge Constance Baker Motley:

Well, James Meredith was an unusual young man. He was the kind of person that one seldom sees in a young person. For example, when he was in the service he had saved every penny I think he earned practically in the service. Uh, when he had an opportunity while stationed in Japan to live in housing provided for American servicemen, it would have cost him some money and he didn't want to spend any money so he lived with the Japanese and the rice paddies. When I met him, he owned one blue suit. He walked around in his army fatigues I think they were called and he never spent his money on clothes. He didn't drink, he didn't smoke, or anything like that. When he came out of the service he had a little bundle. And that is what convinced the state that he had been paid by the NAACP to be the plaintiff. And of course they were never able to prove that because it wasn't true. What they didn't know was that this man was a very thrifty kind of person, contrary to most young people. And they, the state lawyers sent for his Army record, Meredith consented to it, they were looking for something in his background to disqualify him on character grounds. And instead of finding anything derogatory they found that one of his superior officers wrote a report on him which said that this man is the thriftiest man in the service, not only in terms of conserving money, but he saves paper, every scrap of paper that we throw out, he saves it.