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Eyes on the Prize
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The March Against Fear (1966)

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Police examine the wounds of African American activist James Meredith, after he was shot with a shotgun during his one man "March Against Fear" from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi, June 6, 1966.

Aubrey James Norvell made it plain: "I just want James Meredith." In the summer of 1966, Meredith, who had been the first black student admitted to the University of Mississippi, began a walk from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi to encourage blacks to register to vote. With three blasts of a shotgun, Norvell, an unemployed white man from Memphis, wounded Meredith and transformed what had been a quixotic, lonely walk into a significant march for the civil rights movement. As others took up the "March Against Fear," organizers debated the inclusion of whites in the protest and the carrying of weapons in defense of a nonviolent movement. SCLC's rallying cry of "Freedom Now" was increasingly met with Stokely Carmichael's "Black Power!" Meredith recovered in time to lead the march into Jackson. During his march, 4,000 black Mississippians registered to vote.

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