Monday, May 14, 2012

Hattiesburg Zoo Also Known As Kamper Park And The Riots In Oxford Mississippi When James Meredith Was Enrolled At Ole Miss in September of 1962

This is a nice little zoo in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. When I was in college at Mississippi Southern (changed in 1962 to The University of Southern Mississippi) I had friends who lived near this zoo.  We could hear the lions roar.

In September of 1962 when James Meredith was being forcefully enrolled at The University of Mississippi in Oxford, Ms.  all hell broke loose all over the state.
   People were coming from all over the state and nearby states to go to Oxford to fight the US marshalls and the US Army. Terrible riots broke out at Ole Miss and two people were killed.

Meanwhile in Hattiesburg the southern sympathizers gathered in Kamper Park to sign people up to go to Oxford and fight the US troops.
I went down to the park to observe this gathering. I saw locals dressed in Confederate uniforms waving shotguns and swords and recruiting people to go fight the Civil War all over again in Oxford.

After they had signed people up they all got in cars and convertibles and proceeded to parade around Hattiesburg and up and down Hardy street waving their swords and shotguns and rifles. Whether they actually did go to Oxford I do not go.

I went back to the University with my friends. One fellow from Connecticut had just gotten married and moved his Connecticut wife down to Hattiesburg. He said to me,"Joe are they going to kill all us Yankees first?" He asked me what they should do. I told him we would stay in our house and lock the door and shoot anybody who tried to come in and get us. Many of my friends and frat brothers were from the North.
  It was a weird and trying time. There was some talk that the agency that accredits Universities was going to with draw acrreditation from all Universities in the state of Miss. I never took this threat seriously though some did.
  In Oxford a student I knew from Greenwood tried to drive a bulldozer into the Lyceum as the rioting students attacked the US marshalls  during the worst of the riots.   The students were just barely beaten off by the marshalls allowing just enough time for the US Army to arrive and restore order.
I once picked up a hitchhiker in Mississippi shortly after this riot. He told me he had been in this riot and he NEVER wanted to be in a riot ever again.