Description: This thesis examines the life of James Wesley Silver, a professor of history at the University of Mississippi for twenty-six years and author of Mississippi: The Closed Society, a scathing attack on the Magnolia State's history of racial oppression. In 1962, Silver witnessed the campus riot resulting from James Meredith's enrollment as the first black student at the state's hallowed public university and claims this was the catalyst for writing his book. However, by examining James Silver's personal and professional activities and comparing them with the political, cultural, and social events taking place concurrently, this paper demonstrates that his entire life, the gamut of his experiences, culminated in the creation of his own rebel yell, Mississippi: The Closed Society. Chapter 1 establishes Silver's environment by exploring the history and sociology of the South during the years of his residency. Chapter 2 discusses Silver's background and early years, culminating with his appointment as a faculty member of the University of Mississippi in 1936. Chapter 3 reveals Silver's personal and professional life during the 1940s, as well as the era's notable historical events. The decade of the 1950s is discussed in chapter 4, particularly the civil rights movement, Silver's response to these changes, and those in his own life. Chapter 5 follows the path of James Meredith's integration of Ole Miss, the publication of Silver's book, and its aftermath. The conclusion is a brief epilogue of Silver's post-Mississippi life.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Fox, Lisa Ann