On September 29th, 1962, Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett spoke before a halftime crowd at a University of Mississippi football game. He said he loved Mississippi’s heritage. This compelled him to personally block African-American James Meredith from enrolling at Ole Miss. Eventually Meredith was enrolled, violence followed, and 28 clergy, white Methodist clergy, signed a statement, Born of Conviction, opposing the white power structure and its racism. Of the 28 signers, three lost their positions immediately, 18 had left the state in two years. Joseph T. Reiff, chair of the Religion Department at Emory and Henry College, has written about this time, these clergy, and their statement in his book, Born of Conviction: White Methodists and Mississippi’s Closed Society.
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