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Oral History Interview with William Patrick Murphy, January 17, 1978. Interview B-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    In the 1950s, lawyer William Patrick Murphy fought what he describes as a relatively understated battle against segregation. In letters, law journal articles, and in his constitutional law class at the University of Mississippi, Murphy argued for the wisdom of the Brown decision and against the states' rights rationale that many white Mississippians were using to delay integration. His support for integration put him under tremendous pressure from segregationist Mississippians, and after a four-year struggle to keep his job, he left the University. He describes that struggle in this interview, all the while downplaying his contributions to racial justice in Mississippi. This reflective interview will be useful for, among others, researchers interested in white southerners who sought to undo segregation.
  • Becoming involved in the civil rights movement
  • Protest through teaching rather than direct action
  • Exposed to pressure at the University of Mississippi
  • Awakening to the injustice of segregation
  • Murphy claims only a limited contribution to desegregation
  • Many pro-segregation Oxford residents treated Murphy well
  • Awakening to the injustice of segregation
  • Little personal contact with those trying to expel him from Ole Miss
  • Intense pressure from segregationist Mississippians
  • Some choice words for segregationist Mississippians
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Mississippi--Race relations
  • School integration--Mississippi
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.