The University of Mississippi officially opened in 1848. But according to chancellor Robert Khayat, it truly opened its doors Oct. 1, 1962, the day African-American student James Meredith was finally allowed to register for classes.
Now, the university is host to the first presidential debate to involve an African-American candidate Sept. 26, 2008.
The occasion was marked by a gathering Friday afternoon around the university's civil rights memorial that features a bronze image of Meredith.
Meredith's wife and son attended and said they want the world to know that Mississippi has changed since those dark days. Judith Meredith and John Meredith say the University of Mississippi is the perfect stage for that message.
During September 1962, journalists from across the world made their way onto the Ole Miss campus to cover the violence there. Now, 46 years later, they are back, but the images are of peace, tolerance, and optimism.
The one man missing is James Meredith, himself. When asked if he sent a message, his wife said with a smile, 'carry on'.
Meredith's family says he didn't want to distract from the focus of the debate and informing the country. But in the process, all involved are making history.