Exposed to pressure at the University of Mississippi
Murphy found himself under a great deal of pressure at the University of Mississippi, he recalls, in part because the university was not historically insulated from political pressure as some other southern universities were. This lack of protection meant that Murphy endured a four-year battle to keep his job as anti-integrationists fought to remove him from his position.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with William Patrick Murphy, January 17, 1978. Interview B-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
- WILLIAM PATRICK MURPHY:
I know that no other constitutional law professor at any other southern
law school went through the four years of controversy that I did between
1958 and 1962. I had a counterpart, Jay Murphy, at Alabama, who was a
constitutional law and labor law professor. And they had a resistance
group in Alabama, as Mississippi did, but to my knowledge they never
made any efforts to get Jay Murphy fired from the law faculty. And I
don't think they ever tried to purge people from the
University of Alabama the way they did from the University of
Mississippi. And I think maybe the reason was not because the resistance
group was any less strong in their views, but that
the University of Alabama was in a better position than the University
of Mississippi was with respect to being insulated from direct political
interference. They did it in Mississippi because they thought they could
do it successfully, because the University of Mississippi had no history
or tradition of insulation from political interference and domination.
And I think the University of Alabama was not in as precarious a
position as Ole Miss was. It didn't happen in Texas; it
didn't happen in Arkansas; it didn't happen in
Louisiana; it didn't happen in Tennessee; it
didn't happen in Georgia; it didn't happen, so far
as I know, to anybody in North and South Carolina or Florida. Now this
is not to say that those constitutional law professors may not have had
their problems, their criticisms, from alumni and whatnot. But I think
it is true that I was the only constitutional law professor in any
southern law school who underwent a period of four-year controversy in
which serious, sustained, prolonged efforts were made to get me fired or
to force my resignation, and where it surfaced in the Alumni Association
and the Legislature and the Board of Trustees of the University system.
I know no other law professor went through that or anything comparable.
In that respect Ole Miss and Murphy were unique. A hell of a way to