On the campus of the University of Mississippi, a few hundred yards from a monument honoring Confederate soldiers, a statue of the university’s first black student, who enrolled in 1962 amid rioting that left two people dead, stands as what administrators call a powerful symbol of progress.
But when two unidentified men placed a noose around the bronze neck of James Meredith this week and left behind a flag with the Confederate battle emblem, it set into motion a new round of soul-searching in a place where past and present still restlessly coexist.
“These events continue to happen semester after semester and year after year,” the student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian, said in an editorial. “All of our actions seem fruitless and impotent, leaving us broken, scared, humiliated and with burning, difficult questions: What we do we do about it? How do we stop these events from transpiring?”