NORTH MISSISSIPPI 461 He also wrote to the NAACP inquiring about legal assistance. He sent his application, along with the wistful hope learning that “I am an American-Mississippi-Negro Citizen” would not change Ole Miss’s attitude towards him. The registrar formally rejected his application in May 1961. A few days later, Meredith filed a lawsuit in federal court. A federal district court ruled against him, asserting that he had not proved that race motivated his rejection. A three-judge panel overturned the lower court decision, stating that it was a plain fact known to all that the university practiced segregation. Sent back to the lower court, the same justice as before accepted the testimony of school officials that race had played no role in their decision. Amazingly, the judge agreed, stating “the University is not a racially segregated institution” despite the fact that the school never had an African American student. On June 25, 1962, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ordered the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi. Judge John Minor Wisdom in the court’s opinion sharply criticized the delaying tactics of the state and university. “From the moment the defendants discovered that Meredith was a Negro they engaged in a carefully calculated campaign of delay, harassment, and masterful inactivity. It was a defense designed to discourage and defeat by evasive tactics which would have been a credit to Quintus Fabius Maximus.” The court ruling ordered the immediate enrollment of Meredith. Twice previously, Meredith had attempted to register on the campus. The first time, Governor Ross Barnett had “interposed” his authority between the U.S. Supreme Court and the state of Mississippi to prevent Meredith’s admission. In a second attempt, the Lieutenant Governor Paul Johnson and a phalanx of highway patrolmen blocked the entrance, engaging in a ridiculous shoving match with the federal marshals. Kennedy, fearful of an outbreak of violence and extremely reluctant to use federal force, kept asking for assurances that Barnett would use state troopers to keep the peace. President Kennedy entered into the negotiations. They worked out a “hidden ball trick” in which the governor, informed that Meredith would be enrolled on the Oxford campus October 1, could arrive in time to symbolically block his admission before bowing to superior forces. However, Meredith would actually register in Jackson. The Governor promised the highway patrol would maintain order. This ludicrous stage show broke down, as Barnett lost his resolve. Attending a football game in Jackson, Barnett shouted to cheering crowds, “I love Mississippi...I love her people...I love her customs” as rebel flags waved across the sky. Barnett called Robert Kennedy to call off the deal. The Kennedys finally had enough: the Attorney General threatened to expose Barnett’s backroom maneuvering, while the President signed the order to federalize the state National Guard and send army troops to Oxford if needed. Meredith, escorted by a phalanx of United States marshals, arrived on campus. On the evening of September 30, 1962, President Kennedy appeared on television sets across the nation pleading eloquently for peaceful compliance with the court ordered integration of Ole Miss. Eyewitness James Silver recorded that at that same moment, “tear gas was being fired by United States Marshals into the unruly crowd in front of the Lyceum building.” Choking and gasping, spectators “fell back across the Circle toward the Confederate Monument.” The Grove was momentarily almost completely obscured by clouds of gas. Twice the marshals almost ran out of tear gas. The embattled marshals requisitioned the Lyceum basement and halls for the wounded. Within minutes of the rioting, sedans filled with white helmeted reinforcements started arriving at the Lyceum. They were met with a hail of bricks. Hundreds were injured with two deaths, including the French journalist Paul Guihard. The next morning two contingents of federal troops of about 100 each marched onto the campus in full battle gear. At eight o’clock that morning, Meredith walked through the doors of the Lyceum to register. With much less national coverage, volunteers organized civil rights protests in another Mississippi school. Rust College in Holly Springs acted as a center for the movement throughout North Mississippi. The headquarters for COFO (Council of Federated Organizations, an umbrella group of civil rights organizations formed in Mississippi in 1963) was located at 200 Rust Avenue across from the campus on college property. Despite their apprehensions, civil rights supporters in Holly Springs and Marshall County encountered little violence. Activists used Rust College as a safe training center to prepare youthful volunteers for the dangers of the Delta. In part, this lack of violence was due to a conscious decision on the part of white civic leaders, who preferred On June 25, 1962, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ordered the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi.