Arts & Culture

UWF Department of Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Legal Studies and UWF Department of Theatre present Judiciary’s Unsung Heroes: James Meredith Trial Reenactment and Q&A

The University of West Florida Department of Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Legal Studies and UWF Department of Theatre will present the James Meredith Trial Reenactment and Q&A on Saturday, September 16 at 4 p.m. The performance will be held in the Mainstage Theatre at the Center for Fine and Performing Arts, Building 82, on the Pensacola campus.

Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Legal Studies will be collaborating with the Department of Theatre to put on a trial reenactment of the James Meredith trial. He was represented by Constance Baker Motley and integrated into the University of Mississippi. The performance will include theatre students, legal studies students and local attorneys. The trial will be reenacted from 4 to 5 p.m. A short Q&A and refreshments will follow. The event is generously co-sponsored by the Escambia Santa Rosa Bar Foundation.

In 1961, James Meredith applied for admission to the University of Mississippi. He was well qualified, had served honorably in the United States Air Force and had taken courses at several colleges. Yet, he was rejected. Meredith was Black and the university had never admitted a Black student.

Represented by Constance Baker Motley and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Meredith sued in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, alleging that the university had denied him admission because of his race.

The litigation was difficult and hard-fought. Although seven years had passed since the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, many in the South were still resisting the notion that segregation in public education was unconstitutional. Meredith would later describe the case as “the last battle of the Civil War.”

The summary is provided by Judge Denny Chin and Kathy Hirata Chin. The script was provided by Justice for All: Courts and the Community. Scripts for reenactments have been prepared by different organizations, including the Asian American Bar Association of New York and the Federal Bar Council Inn of Court. The scripts are made available by Justice for All with the permission of those organizations. Several different historic cases are available on the site and have been performed across the country. Information can be found at the following link:

This event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required for this event.