450 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS JAMES MEREDITH AT OLE MISS In 1962, James Meredith became the first African American to take advantage of integration and officially enroll at the University of Mississippi after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the university had to accept all qualified students, no matter their race. State officials, students, and citizens were appalled and rioted in Oxford and other places around the state in protest of Meredith seeking equal opportunity for education. Meredith was ushered onto campus by U.S. Marshals to protect him from the crowd protesting his admission. Meredith went on to receive degrees from the University of Ibadan as well as Columbia University after graduating from Ole Miss and continued to be an active leader in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, Meredith lives in Jackson. He has authored books on civil rights and other issues and remains active in civil rights and justice issues. The Establishment of Rust College Rust College, located in Holly Springs, is the oldest historically African American institution of higher learning in Mississippi. The college was founded as part of the revolutionary changes during Reconstruction. Prior to the war, Mississippi state law made teaching literacy to slaves a criminal offense. Whites clearly understood that education made slaves discontented and dangerous to the status quo. With the fiery destruction of slavery, the freed people eagerly sought knowledge. Northern observers commented over and over again on the ex-slaves’ burning desire for literacy. African Americans flocked to newly-created schools and raised money for their support. The third annual report of the Methodist Episcopal Church on its aid society proclaimed that “colored children make as rapid advancement in elementary studies as the white, and that their improvement has not been surpassed and rarely equaled by any class of people.” In August 1866, the Northern antislavery Methodist Episcopal Church founded its Freedmen’s Aid Society. Reverend Richland S. Rust, the first General Field Superintendent of the Freedmen’s Aid Society, appealed to the members of the church to support this organization,