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University filmmaker produces James Meredith integration documentary

Courtesy of Matthew Graves

Fifty years after James Meredith enrolled at Ole Miss, Matthew Graves, producer and director at The University of Mississippi Media and Documentary Projects division, has paid tribute to Meredith in the form of a documentary film, “Rebels: James Meredith and the Integration of Ole Miss.” Graves learned of Meredith and the struggle to integrate The University of Mississippi when he moved to Oxford seven years ago. “I just became so intrigued by it and thought it was just an incredible story,” he said. “I thought it would make a really wonderful documentary to tell the story on film.” Graves said reading books about the integration didn’t compare to actually speaking to those who were involved. “History really comes to life in their words,” Graves said. “I’ve read a lot of different books and writings of what happened in 1962, but it was such an incredible experience to talk to the students, the faculty, the U.S. federal marshals and the people who were here.” Graves and his team worked with the special collections on campus and the Mississippi Archives in Jackson to gather footage, pictures and material, like newspaper clippings, to tell Meredith’s story visually. “It’s an incredible story of courage and perseverance,” Graves said. “He personifies everything that is good about what an Ole Miss Rebel is. To me, he is a true rebel, and this film is dedicated to him.” There will be a campus screening of the documentary at 8 p.m. Sunday in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Admission is free and open to the public.