Interview with Constance Baker Motley
QUESTION 45
INTERVIEWER:

I READ SOMEWHERE THAT YOU HAD AT ONE POINT EXPRESSED THE OPINION THAT JAMES MEREDITH MIGHT NOT LIVE TO ENROLL IN THE UNIVERSITY. IS THAT TRUE?

Judge Constance Baker Motley:

During the time that the case was going on, James Meredith was fearful that he would be killed. He, when I met him, he walked with a cane and I didn't notice that he limped or needed any cane at all for any physical reason, and one day I finally said to him, "Why do you carry that cane?" And he said "Well, you know, I'm not a very big. . ." He was a slightly built man: he was, he's about 5'7 and at the time I guess he weighed 140 pounds. He said "You know, if I'm attacked, I need something to defend myself, and if I'm. . ." And I said, "But here you are in the black community and you rarely go outside. He said "No, if I'm attacked it'll be by another black who's been paid to kill me." And so…

FILM PRODUCTION TEAM:

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Judge Constance Baker Motley:

"…it will be by another black who's been paid to kill me." And so he lived with that fear for the eighteen months and of course when he was finally admitted to the University of Mississippi, he went to school with a U.S. Marshal at his side. A U.S. Marshal slept in his room at night and for at least a year, I think he attended at least a year, that's what he lived with, the fear of being killed. And that's a strain on anyone.

FILM PRODUCTION TEAM:

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