Paul Guihard was a French journalist who covered the Civil Rights struggle during the 60's for Agence France-Press. On September 29th, 1962, a day that was supposed to be his day off, Guihard traveled to Oxford, Mississippi to report on the forced desegregation of the University of Mississippi, also know as Ole Miss. Federal marshals were stationed on the campus to ensure the safe enrolment of the school's fist black student, James Meredith. Segregationist protestors, many of the Ole Miss Students, had gathered around the school administration building in protest of the federal desegregation mandate. President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, demanded that Meredith be allowed to enroll in conjunction with a federal court ruling in Meredith's favor. Governor Ross Barnett of Mississippi staunchly refused and twice would personally block Meredith from entering the registrar's office1. The leaders of state and federal government had come to a Constitutional impasse, and neither was going to back down.
Guihard arrived on campus on Sunday, September 30th. He would compare the atmosphere when he arrived to that of a carnival, and wrote of spirited singing and speeches of Southern pride and tradition2. Yet as the day wore on, protestors became restless. Marshals arrested several students and protestors responded by shouting and throwing debris. Guihard waded into the crowd, shrugging off warnings of physical danger. Debris rained down on the marshals and they responded with tear gas. The mob fired back with guns and the marshals responded with gunfire of their own. Guihard was found several hundred yards away lying face-up next to some bushes less than an hour later, dying from a gunshot to the back. Help was called but nothing could be done to save him.
Another man, Ray Gunter, would also be killed on that day in what became known as the Battle for Ole Miss. But Gunter's death was ruled accidental and investigations concurred that the bullet that killed him was a stray. Guihard, however, was shot in the back at close range in an area away from much of the violence. A federal investigation was initiated but neither killer nor motive was ever found. Many have speculated about who might have had the means or motive to kill Guihard, but the chaos and violence of the day ensures that the concrete details of his murder will never be known. What is left is for us to make, as best we can, some substantial record of this man and the role he played in the greater struggles of his day.
On June 25, 1962, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court found that James Meredith, an applicant to the University of Mississippi, was rejected solely on the basis of his race1. The court therefore ordered that Meredith be allowed to enroll, a ruling that cause Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett to respond, "We will not surrender to the evil and illegal forces of tyranny"3.
Prominent figures in Mississippi leveraged considerable power to prevent Meredith's enrollment at the school. For example, Meredith was tried in absentia for false voter registration, charged of "moral turpitude" among other things, and convicted. The Mississippi legislature then passed a law prohibiting enrollment of students who had been convicted of charges that included "moral turpitude." When Meredith initially tried to enroll at the school, he was personally blocked by Governor Barnett. Yet, President Kennedy had guaranteed the enforcement of all federal court rulings, a guarantee that would lead to the standoff between federal marshals and Southern leaders and protestors on the University campus.
Paul Guihard was born in 1932, making him 30 years old at the time of the Battle of Ole Miss. He worked as a journalist for Agence France-Press in France until receiving a four year appointment to report in the United States. He moved to New York City in 1960 and became involved in northern reporting of the Civil Rights movement. He was a tall, husky, red bearded bachelor and was nicknamed "Flash" by his friends4.
In his spare time, he wrote plays, one of which was performed off-Broadway for several weeks. Guihard showed special interest in the Constitutional crisis that seemed to be developing between Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett and President John F. Kennedy regarding the enforcement of federal court rulings requiring desegregation of various institutions including the state's flagship university, the University of Mississippi also know as Ole Miss.
In late September, Guihard was asked to travel to the University of Mississippi to cover what promised to be the culmination of the James Meredith conflict. The Agence France-Press staff was stretched thin, so Guihard's editor asked him to work on his day off to cover the incident. Guihard agreed and set off for Mississippi. In the meantime, federal courts had ruled that Barnett exceeded his authority in blocking Meredith's enrollment, and President Kennedy deployed 31,000 federal troops to "recapture the state of Mississippi"5.
Prior to his arrival in Oxford, Guihard held several meetings with Southern leaders, presumably in an attempt to provide multiple perspectives in his reporting. Transcripts of those meetings have been difficult to obtain, but mention of at least on such meeting is made by Mississippi State Senator John C. McLaurin at a pro-segregation rally a few days after Guihard's death. According to McLaurin, "Paul Guihard, when he came to Jackson [Mississippi] before going to Oxford, came directly to our citizens council headquarters," adding that Guihard had telephoned a story to his editor that was favorable to Mississippi6. McLaurin would later use this pro-Mississippi report as evidence of a motive for a federal marshal to kill Guihard.
Guihard arrived in Oxford, MS on the morning of September 30th, 1962. He entered the Ole Miss campus around 8:40 a.m. in a white rented Chevrolet. He was warned by a Mississippi Highway Patrolman that he was entering at his own risk and that the authorities could not protect him. He proceeded to entre the campus with Agence France-Press photographer Sammy Schulman. When he arrived at teh center of campus, where hundreds of protestors had congregated, he was surprised by the mood he observed: "The policemen are smiling. Newsmen - even those from the north - are received with open arms, and there's a feeling of relaxation in the crowd." He commented in the same dispatch to Agence France that it was "difficult to believe that you are in the center of the most serious constitutional crisis ever experienced by the United States since the war of secession" and that "it is in these moments when you feel that there is the distance of a century between Washington and the irredentists of the South"7.
The high spirits of the crowd would not prove so hospitable as the day progressed. Marshals soon began arresting unruly students. Protestors responded by shouting and throwing debris at the marshals, who in turn fired tear gas into the crowd. It was around this point that Guihard waded into the crowd, walking in the direction of the Lyceum. Photographer Flip Schulke warned him to be careful to which Guihard lightly replied, "Oh, I was in Cyprus -- this is nothing!"8. Less than an hour later, Guihard would be found dying from a gunshot to the back. Several students heard him moaning and, thinking Guihard was having a heart attack, attempted to resuscitate him. Needless to say, they were unsuccessful. Guihard died minutes later, around 9:00 p.m.
Paul Guihard was buried October 5, 1962 in Saint Malo, France, following a service in New York City which was attended by U.S. and French officials9.
Guihard was found near the Ward Dormitory around 9:00 p.m., well after sunset. A group of students heard him moaning and, thinking he was having a heart attack, attempted to resuscitate him. He had a pulse when he was found but died before help arrived. Forensic reports indicate that Guihard was killed by a .38 Special Led Bullet of Peters or Remington Brand. Such a bullet could have been fired from a .38 or a .357 caliber Smith & Wesson Revolver. Both weapons were standard issue and carried by at least 367 federal marshals. These guns were also widely available to the public10.
The bullet that killed Guihard was fired into his lower back at an upward angle, piercing his heart. Gunshot residue found on his coat indicated that the firing distance was less than one foot11. The obvious conclusion was that this could not have been an errant bullet and that Guihard was indeed murdered in cold blood.
According to an FBI document, "the body of Paul Leslie Guihard... was discovered near a clump of bushes in an unlighted area of the campus by a University student at approximately 9:00 p.m., after rioting had started. Examination indicated that Guihard was shot in the back at close range and a .38 caliber bullet was subsequently removed from his body. The FBI Laboratory has conducted ballistics examinations of the weapons confiscated during the rioting and none have been identified as the weapon which fired the fatal bullet"12. Given the location of Guihard's death, there has been some speculation that he was either forced or lured into a dark secluded area where he was executed. This is only circumstantial speculation as no eyewitnesses to this crime have ever come forward.
We are also left to speculate about motives for his murder. Some have suggested that Guihard was targeted as a member of the press13, and that once violence erupted, the cordial reception he mentioned in his dispatch had turned sour. Governor Barnett, one of the key instigators of the Battle for Ole Miss, had made a Proclamation to the People of Mississippi two weeks prior, in which he vilified the "unfriendly liberal press" as a divisive force against segregation. However, Mississippi State Senator John C. McLaurin gave a speech at a segregationalist rally a few weeks later that troubles this motive. He mentions that Guihard met with several segregationalist leaders in Jackson before coming to Oxford, and that their impression was the Guihard favored Mississippi in the conflict. This might suggest that the murderer was not present at these meetings and was therefore not likely a Mississippi segregationalist leader.
The FBI documents also mention two groups, the "Rebel Resistance" and the "Rebel Underground" as having become active on the Ole Miss campus in the days before the Battle. The FBI monitored the groups as potentially violent and mostly student-run but it is not known if the FBI connected either group to Guihard's murder.
Because he perceived that Guihard was pro-Mississippi, Senator McLaurin publicly speculated that the murderer was a federal marshal. McLaurin cited the bullet and murder weapon types as those carried by many federal marshals. This has to be considered as possibility. Most of the marshals were prison guards and other municipal officers by profession and had little formal training in riot conditions. However, there would seem to be little reason for a marshal to execute a French journalist. Since the marshals' weapons were confiscated and tested by the FBI, it seems unlikely that the killer was a federal marshal.
Another oddity in the crime scene details is Guihard's location at the time of his death. While much of the violence took place around the Lyceum building in the center of campus, Guihard was found dying several buildings away and outside the line of sight of the center of the violent action. Once gunfire broke out it seems likely that Guihard would have fled, but also unlikely that he was the only one fleeing. Something in his behavior must have seemed unusual and caught the attention of an aggressor, leading to his eventual execution. However, no witnesses or murder weapons have ever been found to offer concrete details.
One final oddity worth noting: The FBI documents mention several bullet casings found in a Ford Thunderbird somewhere on campus. The documents are unclear as to why these casings were included in the evidence tested in the Guihard case, but we speculate that the FBI connected the casings to the bullets that killed Guihard. There was no further mention of the Ford Thunderbird or the casings anywhere else in the documents or in our research of the evidence. Further research in this area might yield information about the vehicle which could lead to ownership records and potential leads that could help shed light on why and how Guihard was killed.
There are numerous possible areas for further research and investigation. As preciously mentioned, several questions about the crime scene are left unanswered by our current research. There is potential for much to be learned about the FBI investigation as well as the inquiry made by Guihard's editor, Felix Bolo, into the matter.
Unfortunately many of the people known to be related to this case have since passed away. However, there are several persons of interest listed in the research inventory, some of whom may still be living. Obvious care should be taken in approaching possible witnesses or former friends and acquaintances of Paul Guihard.
Some of the FBI FOIA documents we received were incomplete and only made reference to other documents containing information about groups such as the "Rebel Resistance" and "Rebel Underground." A follow-up FOIA request might yield more contextual materials that could provide important insights into questions of motive.
Another rich area for further research is the Ole Miss archives, which contain several collections of material relating to the Battle for Ole Miss. We have included Finding Aids for the most promising archives and marked some of the documents we requested but were never provided with. A later follow-up on these document requests would liely produce results, though our initial inquiry was refused by Kathleen Wickham, an Ole Miss professor who is writing an article about Paul Guihard and did not want to share her resources.
One final important research area might arise in finding documentation of Guihard's meeting(s) in Jackson and Oxford prior to the Battle. A meeting with the White Citizens Council in Jackson is mentioned by Mississippi Senator McLaurin during his speech accusing federal marshals of the murder. Such a meeting, if it was in any formal capacity, might have been recorded somewhere. Minutes from this meeting, a list of attendees, even conformation of the meeting from the Agence France office might provide important information about how Guihard approached his reporting of this incident.
1 JFK Memorial Library, "Chronology"
2 Bullard, S. and Bond, J. Free At Last: A History of the Civil Rights Movement and Those Who Died in the Struggle. Oxford University Press. 1994
3 Barnett, 1962. Quoted from: Katagiri, Y. Barnett, Ross R. (1962) "A Statewide Address on Television and Radio to the People of Mississippi by Governor Ross R. Barnett, 7:30 P.M., September 13, 1962," 12-37-0-3-1-1-1 to 7-1-1, pp. 1-1-1 to 2-1-1, 4-1-1, 6-1-1, Records of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, Archives and Library Division, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson, Mississippi. The full text of the governor's address can also be found in the folder: "Barnett, Ross - Miscellaneous, 1962-1963," Godwin Advertising Agency Collections; and in folder 50, box 2, Kenneth Toler Papers, both in Special Collections, Mitchell Memorial Library, Mississippi State Univ., Mississippi State, Mississippi.
4 Bullard, S. and Bond, J. p.56
5 Williams and Bond, p. 217
6 "Racist Hints Marshall Killed Newsman" Chicago Daily Defender, 10/11/62
7 Doyle, W. An American Insurrection. New York: Random House, 2003. p. 162
8 Doyle, p. 162
9 Bullard and Bond, p. 57
10 Doyle, p. 163
11 Doyle, p. 163
12 Legal Attache, 11/13/62
13 see Tolerance.org entry for Paul Guihard, 1962
Matt Sonneborn & Carleen Stewart
|Mitchel, Traci||Ole Miss||9.4.2008
|Civil Rights Memorial Rep.||SPLC||9.23.2008 (email)|
|Truman, Gary||For Flip Schulke Archives email@example.com|
|McWhite, Leigh||Archives at Ole Miss||9.25.2008 (email)|
|Professor Wickham, Kathleen||Ole Missfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Professor Russell H. Barnett||Political Science Professor, University of Mississippiemail@example.com|
|Sammy Schulman||Agence France-Press Photographer|
|Members of Faculty at University of Mississippi||offered a resolution against blame on U.S. Marshals for Riots - 9.30.1962 (See Document for names)|
|Val Barrett Two-Wolves||Daughter of Professor Russell H. Barrett|
|1.12.1962||NYTimes||Buckley, T.||1,000 More Guardsmen to Quit Oxford, Leaving Force of 4,500|
|9.16.1962||Memphis Commerical Appeal||Mississippi's Crisis|
|10.1.1962||NYTimes||Sitton, C.||Negro at Mississippi U. as Barnett Yields...|
|10.1.1962||NYTimes||French Reporter in U.S. Two Years|
|10.2.1962||Chicago Daily Defender||JFK Determined to Keep Order in Mississippi|
|10.2.1962||NYTimes||Sitton, C.||Shots Quell Mob; Enrolling of Meredith Ends Segregation in State Schools|
|10.3.1962||NYTimes||French Reporter Wrote 'Civil War has never Ended'|
|10.5.1962||NYTimes||Rites Held for Slain Reporter|
|10.7.1962||NYTimes||Sitton, C.||Mississippi: The Mood of the Deep South|
|10.10.1962||CDD||FBI Probing Oxford Murders|
|10.11.1962||Chicago Daily||Racist Hints Marshal Killed Newsman|
|10.12.1962||Times Magazine||Though the Heavens Fall|
|10.13.1962||CDD||Kuettner, A.||Oxford, Mississippi - Anatomy of a Riot|
|10.14.1962||NYTimes||Buckley, T.||Accord Reached on Walker Tests|
|10.15.1962||CDD||French Ask Scholarship at Ole Miss Open to Negroes|
|10.17.1962||NYTimes||Check on Marshals' GUns|
|11.13.1962||AP||Mississippi Judge Bars Army's Data|
|11.16.1962||NYTimes||Lewis, Anthony||U.S. Court Orders Criminal Charges for Gov. Barnett|
|11.17.1962||NYTimes||Sitton, C.||Mississippi Jury Says Marshal Touched off Riot|
|11.17.1962||NYTimes||Test of Mississippi Grand Jury's Report on Rioting at University in Oxford|
|9.7.1963||CDD||Seven Have Died in Rights Fight|
|3.31.1987||AP||Beard, D.||Journalists, Some Activists Meet in Recall of Civil Rights Era|
|4.5.1987||Philadelphia Inquirer||Guthman||A Different Scene at Ole Miss 25 Years After Meredith|
|4.5.1987||United Press International||Daniel, L.||Journalists Evaluate Civil Rights Coverage|
|4.12.1987||United Press International||"Lily-white Fraternity Row at Ole Miss, with its..."|
|10.26.1989||Atlanta Journal & Constitution||Jubera, D.||Montgomery's Dees is the Man Behind Civil Rights Memorial|
|11.5.1989||Charlotte Observer||Mellnik, T.||Martyrs of the Struggle Saluted|
|11.5.1989||Chicago Sun Times||Jarrett, V.||Overdue Memorial to Civil Rights Martyrs Lists Liberty's High Cost|
|9.19.1993||Birmingham News||Sikora, Frank||Many of the 40 Civil Rights Era Murders Unsolved|
|11.2.1993||NYTimes||Pace, E.||Gen. Edwin Walker, 83, Is Dead; Promoter Rightist Causes in 60's (Obit.)|
|11.5.1993||The Times (London)||Major General Edwin Walker Obituary|
|5.14.1996||Newsday (Melville, NY)||Dorman, M.||Student Briefing Page on the News|
|3.5.1998||Call & Post (Ohio)||Gates, C.J.||Back to the Future: A Civil Rights Profile|
|9.29.2002||Clarion-Ledger (Mississippi)||Mitchell, J.||Ole Miss: 40 Years Later|
|9.29.2002||Washington Post||Haygood||A Mississippi Odyssey|
|Spring 2004||The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education||Eubanks, W.R.||A Black Student Confronts the Racial Legacy of Ole Miss|
|Fall 2006||The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education||Bryant, N.||The Black Man Who Was Crazy Enough to Apply to Ole Miss|
|11.26.2006||Washington Post||Haygood||Story of Their Lives; Four Reporters on the Civil Rights Beat...|
|3.4.2007||Black Issues book review||Fraser, C.G.||The Race Beat: The Press, Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation|
|7.15.2007||Washington Post||Haygood||The Man from Jet; Simeon Booker Not Only Covered a Tumultuous Era...|
|9.16.2008||Cover Letter||Letter enclosing the FOIA Information from the FBI|
|10.1.1962||FBI Report||Inventory of equipment carried by law enforcement officers on 9.29.1962|
|10.1.1962||Memo||C.L. McGowan to Mr. Rosen
Re: University Mississippi racial matters
|10.1.1962||Memo||C.D. DeLoach to Mr. Mohr
Re: White House Press Release that day
|10.1.1962||Memo||C.D. DeLoach to Mr. Mohr
Re: Correspondence from France-Press
|10.10.1962||AirTel||Cover Letter & Synopsis
Re: Citizens Council Meeting on 10.9.1962
|10.10.1962||Urgent Memo||Desegregation of university of Mississippi/ Citizens Council Meeting Synopsis|
|10.16.1962||Cablegram||Legat, Paris to Director of FBI
Re: Inquiry of Murder
|10.16.1962||Memo||General Inv. Div. Statement|
|11.13.1962||Cover Letter||Statement of Responsibility for investigation lies with state and local authorities|
|11.20.1962||FBI Report||Re: Memphis report of 11.6.1962|
|11.8.1962||U.S. Govt. Memo||From A. Rosen to Mr. Belmont
Re: Cablegram of 10.16.1962 re: the status of Federal Investigation
|12.12.1962||AirTel||Cover Letter for Memo
Re: Interview of Unknown Person
|12.18.1962||Interview Synopsis||Unknown individual: inconclusive|
|12.20.1962||Index||Blanked out: inconclusive|
|TOC & Index||Index of persons, guns and auto license numbers mentioned in FBI Reports: all blanked out|
|ME 157-147||FBI Ballastic reports, typewriter specimens|
|URL Address||Description/Available Information|
|Tolerance.org||1962 - Paul Guihard, European Reporter Killed During Ole Miss Riot...|
|Ole Miss Archives||Information about the Civil Rights collections at the University of Mississippi, including the Russell H. Barrett Collections|
|Mississippi Digital Library|
|Neiman Reports||Summer 2006||Roberts, G. & Klibanoff, H. The Embrace of Principled Stands|
|Columbia Journalism Review||The Desegregation Drama: Review - The Race Beat, by Roberts & Klibanoff|
|JFK Library||Chronology of Battle of Ole Miss|
|Virginia.edu||History of Civil Rights Movement (timeline)|
|Yahoo! Answers||Q. Re: Paul Guihard contribution to CRM|
|Newseum.org||Freedom Forum Journalists Memorial - Paul Guihard|
|Mississippi State Archives||Sovereignty Commission Online|
|Ole Miss Department of Archives|
|Inventory of the Russell H. Barrett Collection (MUM00024)|
|James H. Meredith SMMSS (MUM00594)|
|William Doyle Collection (MUM00550) **This one has a lot of important information**|
|Governor Ross H. Barnett's Proclamation to the People of Mississippi (Broadcast via TV & Radio)|
|Statement by the Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy, September 27th, 1962|
|White House Executive Order 11053 (hard to read, but believed to be correct number of document)|
|Providing Assistance for the Removal of Unlawful Obstructions of Justice in the state of Mississippi, 9.30.1962|
|White House Press Release "Text of Telegram from the President Addressed to the Hon. Ross Barnett, Governor, State of Mississippi," 9.30.1962|
|Transcript of News Conference with Assistant White House Press Secretary Andrew Hatcher, 9.30.1962|
|Items of Interest||Description||Source:|
|Map||The Battle of Oxford||Doyle, William, in An American Insurrection|
|Book||An American Insurrection||Doyle, William firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Book||The Mississippi State||Katagiri, Yasuhiro|
|Book||Free At Last: A History of the Civil Rights Movement and Those who Died in the Struggle||Bullard, Sara & Bond, Jullian pg. 56-57|
|Biography||Flip Schulke: Photographer (deceased)||The Center for American History
University of Texas
|Journal Article||"Gentlemen, You Are Tramping on the Sovereignty of This Great State"||Katagiri, Yasuhiro|
|Book||Integration at Ole Miss||Barrett, Russell|
|S.C. of MS, D1||Walker v. K.C. Star Company; Civil Appeal - Action for Damages|