Nan Prince, Assistant Director of Collections in the MDAH Museum Division, brings us this post about interesting artifacts in the collection.

 Tear gas grenade and tear gas canister from Ole Miss riots, 1962. Accession numbers: 1999.6.1 and 2007.2.1 (Museum Division Collection)

Tear gas grenade and tear gas canister from Ole Miss riots, 1962. Accession numbers: 1999.6.1 and 2007.2.1 (Museum Division Collection)

After a prolonged court battle, James Meredith became the first African-American admitted to the University of Mississippi. On September 30, 1962, federal marshals escorted Meredith onto campus. That night white segregationists rioted, hurling bricks, bottles, and gunfire at the marshals who responded by firing tear gas into the crowd. The escalating violence prompted President John F. Kennedy to send over 20,000 U.S. Army troops and federalized Mississippi Guardsmen who quelled the riots. Throughout the night, two people were killed and many more were seriously injured, including over one hundred marshals. The next morning, Meredith walked across a rubble-filled campus to register and attend his first class at Ole Miss. This tear gas grenade and tear gas canister were both found on campus the day after the riot.

Artifacts from the Museum Division collection that are not on exhibit are available for viewing by appointment. Please contact Nan Prince, Assistant Director of Collections, by email to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

John Dittmer, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995).

Charles W. Eagles, “The Fight for Men’s Minds”: The Aftermath of the Ole Miss Riot of 1962 (http://mdah.state.ms.us/pubs/riot.pdf).