ESPN Films’ 30 for 30, presented by Buick Verano, will premiere Ghosts of Ole Miss on ESPN/ESPNHD tonight at 7. The film, directed by Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Fritz Mitchell, is told through the perspective of writer and Mississippi native Wright Thompson.
In the fall of 1962, on the eve of James Meredith becoming the first African American student to attend the University of Mississippi, the campus erupted into a night of rioting between those opposed to the integration and those trying to enforce it. President Kennedy sent the US Army to Oxford to put an end to the violence and enforce Meredith’s rights as an American citizen, but the riot resulted in two deaths and many injuries.
Against this backdrop, the Ole Miss football team was in the early stages of what would prove to be an unprecedented season in school history. Ghosts of Ole Miss explores the intersection of the Rebel football team with this seminal event in the civil rights movement, including tumultuous events that not only continue to shape the state half a century later, but also led to Thompson’s discovery of a personal family connection to the story.
“Ghosts of Ole Miss will shed light on a significant time in our country’s civil rights history while weaving in a sports story not familiar to most,” said Connor Schell, ESPN Films vice president and executive producer. “Fifty years later, the topic resonates with all Americans and we are proud to showcase such an important story as part of the 30 for 30 series.”
Ghosts of Ole Miss features personal interviews with Meredith, former players on the 1962 football team and students who witnessed the riot.
“This story is very personal to me, and I appreciate the care Fritz Mitchell and his team put into getting it right,” Thompson said. “I hope the powerful and important message of the film connects with both people who lived through the civil rights era and those for whom it is something that exists in history books.” (October 30, 2012, Page 6)