US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stopped in the Mid-South today to honor the legacy of civil rights activists.
US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales spent just over an hour on the Ole Miss campus this afternoon. He spoke with honors students and then paid a visit to the recently dedicated monument to James Meredith, the first African-American student admitted to the school in 1962.
This life-size statue of James Meredith stands tall between two buildings on the Ole Miss campus.
Alberto Gonzales says Meredith's persistence to be educated paved the way for others.
"It must've been frightening, but also what courage," Gonzales said. "The commitment someone would have in that position and that's a testament to the individual and a testament to the American spirit"
Gonzales himself came from humble beginnings. He is the second of eight children who grew up in a two bedroom house in Texas. His own determination to be educated led him to Rice University and then Harvard Law School. Today, he is the nation's first Hispanic Attorney General.
"As someone who has lived the American dream, I feel a special obligation to insure that the American dream is available to everyone," Gonzales said.
George Richardson of Memphis was part of a small group of honors students who met with Gonzales.
"He was impressive to talk to," Richardson said. "He didn't have that air of Washington around him"
School officials say since the monument was erected last year, it's become a landmark for top dignitaries like Gonzales to visit.
"I very much appreciate the principle of the motto of open doors that is embraced by this university," Gonzales said.
Gonzales noted the recent conviction of James Seale in Mississippi for the 1964 deaths of two black teenagers as progress in the betterment of civil rights for everyone.