Skip to Content

U.S. Marshals Service

History

The U.S. Marshals and the Integration of the University of Mississippi:  Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy

October 1, 1962, the day after the riot at the University of Mississippi.

"I think last night was the worst night I ever spent.  We had these marshals who perhaps originally signed up... not realizing that they would be involved in [enrolling James Meredith as the first black student at the University of Mississippi].

"They were out there with instructions not to fire.  They were fired on, they were hit, things were thrown at them.  It was an extremely dangerous situation. 

"All they had, finally was the tear gas.  We received notification that the tear gas was running out, that they only had four or five minutes.  The mob brought up a bulldozer and attacked the [university administration building the Deputies were protecting].

Deputy U.S. Marshals defending the administration building

"And I think it was that close.  If the tear gas hadn't arrived in that last five minutes, and if these men hadn't remained true to their orders and instructions, if they had lost their heads and started firing at the crowd, you would have had immense bloodshed, and I think it would have been a very tragic situation.

"So to hear these reports that were coming in to the President and to myself all last night - when the situation with the state police having deserted the situation, and these men standing up there with courage and ability and great bravery - that was a very moving period in my life."

 -- Robert F. Kennedy

Continued:  Page One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight

Read about the past | Trouble Brewing | Holding Firm | Continued Protection | Robert Kennedy's Statement
The Present: 40 Years Later | The 40th Year Commemoration | Message from Director Benigno Reyna

 
usmarshals.gov is an official site of the U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justicee