458 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI his native county to describe the ecological destruction he witnessed in his youth. In 1940’s The Hamlet, Faulkner introduces the poor white outcasts, the Snopes, and the land they lived on. It was a land stripped by predatory lumbering companies and abandoned after the hardwood forests were gone. Mounds of rotting sawdust marked the vanished sawmills. “Now it was a region of scrubby second-growth pine and oak among which dogwoods bloomed until it too was cut to make cotton spindles, and old fields where not even a trace of furrow showed anymore, gutted and gullied by forty years of rain and forest and heat.” The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public works relief program within the New Deal, hired young, unemployed, and unmarried men for projects related to conservation and the development of natural resources. The men provided manual labor planting millions of trees, constructing the infrastructure of state and national parks, and working on soil erosion projects. The CCC planted hundreds of thousands of loblolly and shortleaf pines, which cast large loads of needles, very effective in preventing soil erosion. The CCC introduced the use of kudzu as a cover for eroded land and forage for grazing animals. A climbing, coiling, and trailing perennial vine imported from eastern Asia as a legume, kudzu introduces nitrogen into the soil. Unfortunately, kudzu proved to be an invasive, noxious weed, outcompeting indigenous plants and spreading rapidly across the southern landscape. Growth at Ole MissAfterWorldWar II With millions of returning soldiers taking advantage of the benefits of the G. I. Bill, America’s colleges experienced a veritable explosion in enrollments. In 1870 only 1.7 percent of college-age Americans were enrolled; in 1948 the number rose to 20 percent. Mississippi shared in this dramatic popularization of higher education. In Mississippi, college enrollment in 1900 only made up 2 percent of the population; in 1950, it rose to nearly 15 percent. The enrollment at the University of Mississippi spiked to 3,213 in 1946 on a campus designed to hold 1,500. The next year, the student body increased to 3,500 with 1,000 applicants denied because there was no room for them. The University of Mississippi faced a profound transformation: abandoning its role as a small institution training the state’s elites to become a truly modern university. Under the leadership of the new chancellor, J.D. Williams, the university embarked on an ambitious building plan. A series of new dormitories were built along with a number of new academic facilities, including the new Carrier Engineering building and a new education, biology, and music building. The most ambitious project was a new modern library. The first centrally air-conditioned building at a state institution of higher learning, it was designed to hold the vastly increased library holdings. When completed in 1951, the university possessed less than 200,000 volumes; the new library could house 450,000. The university also modernized academically. The graduate school reinstated its doctoral program in 1948 with a Ph.D. in medicine. Additional doctorate degrees were added in the 1950’s in education, English, chemistry, and history. However, the university’s growth was increasingly overshadowed by threats to its status as a white-only institution. World War II Spurs Efforts to End Segregation Although white Mississippians had worried about a legal challenge to Jim Crow for decades, the historic 1954 Brown v. Board of Education court decision left them stunned and outraged. The unanimous Supreme Court ruling struck down segregation in public school systems as unconstitutional. The ruling was a direct threat, which whites held off successfully for another fifteen years. Across the state outraged defenders of the “Southern way of life” mobilized a “Massive Resistance.” Community leaders organized the Citizens’ Councils as a respectable alternative to violent opposition to integration, preferring to use economic pressure and propaganda to defend Jim Crow. As the world’s most famous Mississippian, William Faulkner found himself caught in the whirlwind. With his increasing international acclaim, William Faulkner increasingly played the role of a public intellectual and commentator. The State Department sent him to international writers’conferences in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1952 and Nagano, Japan, in 1955. At the request of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Faulkner agreed in 1956 to head the writers’group in the “People to People Program” designed to carry the message of the American way of life to people trapped behind the Iron Curtain. The most difficult issue that Faulkner, as an ambassador and public figure, wrestled with was Southern, specifically Mississippi, race relations. In November 1955, Faulkner addressed the meeting of the Southern Historical Association in Memphis at the request of his friend, controversial University of Mississippi historian James Silver. The meeting debated the impact of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling. Faulkner asserted, “To live anywhere in the world of A. D. 1955 and be against equality of race or color, is like living in Alaska and being against snow.” Faulkner and likeminded reformers refused