Helms was for integration; he was simply against “movements.” He would later hire James Meredith, who was the first black to attend the University of Mississippi — with the assistance of federal troops. By 1989, Meredith’s views had come around to those of Helms, not the other way around.
After years of reading and studying and attending law school at Columbia University, Meredith concluded that blacks had been better off when they worked for themselves and not for white liberals. (Having worked for white liberals myself, I couldn’t agree more.) Meredith claimed Helms fired him as domestic policy adviser after a year because he was too right-wing for Helms. (…)
Liberals discount Helms’ hiring of Meredith on the grounds that Meredith had wandered off the reservation. (Blacks are allowed to have only one set of political views.) It just shows you how stupid liberals are: Blacks don’t live on reservations; Indians do.
To paraphrase Dan Quayle, to be called a racist by these people is a badge of honor. Rest in peace, Jesse Helms: New York Times stock was recently lowered to a notch above junk bond status.
He was an active Republican and served for several years as a domestic advisor on the staff of United States Senator Jesse Helms. Faced with harsh criticism from the Civil Rights community, Meredith said that he wrote every member of the Senate and House offering his services to them in order to gain access to the Library of Congress, and that only Helms replied.
In 2002, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his desegregation of the University of Mississippi, at the age of 69, Meredith was the proprietor of a small used car lot in Jackson, Mississippi. On the celebration activities surrounding the anniversary he said, “It was an embarrassment for me to be there, and for somebody to celebrate it, oh my God.”
Earlier that same year, Mr. Meredith watched his son, Joseph Meredith, graduate from Ole Miss with a doctorate in Business Administration. Joseph, who had previously earned degrees from Harvard University and Millsaps College (Jackson, MS), graduated as the most outstanding doctoral student in the School of Business Administration. The elder Meredith said, “I think there’s no better proof that White supremacy was wrong than not only to have my son graduate, but to graduate as the most outstanding graduate of the school,” Meredith says. “That, I think, vindicates my whole life.”
James Meredith views himself as an individual American citizen who demanded and got the rights properly extended to any American, not as a participant in the U.S. civil rights movement. There is considerable enmity between James Meredith and the organized Civil Rights Movement. Meredith once said that “Nothing could be more insulting to me than the concept of civil rights. It means perpetual second-class citizenship for me and my kind.”
In an interview for CNN, Meredith stated, “I was engaged in a war. I considered myself engaged in a war from Day One. And my objective was to force the federal government – the Kennedy administration at that time – into a position where they would have to use the United States military force to enforce my rights as a citizen.”
He campaigned for former Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett — the same governor who had tried to stop him from enrolling at the state’s top university. Meredith notes that no blacks were hurt during the standoff and credits Barnett.
Later, Meredith worked for ultra-conservative former Sen. Jesse Helms and endorsed former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke’s campaign for governor in Louisiana — activities he now explains with a “know your enemy” argument. Meredith himself tried in 1967 to unseat New York Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, one of the country’s most prominent black politicians at the time.
And to many civil rights activists, Meredith’s words have spoken as loudly as his actions.
He decries the movement’s treasured theory of nonviolent activism, calling it “the most un-American thing in the world … and the worst thing that’s ever been presented to my people.”
He has said that government welfare efforts have done more harm to black families than slavery did. He has criticized blacks and other minorities for not using what he calls proper English.
He doesn’t even like to be called a civil rights activist, considering the movement a concept of Northeastern white liberals aiming mostly to enhance their own status.
But Meredith made clear Thursday that he doesn’t resent being labeled a renegade. In fact, he seems to relish it.
“I was always out of line. But I was deliberately out of line,” Meredith explained after his speech.