When John Frazier and Charles Kershner met in the spring of 1964 at the University of Southern Mississippi, it was only long enough for Kershner to snap Frazier’s picture and for Frazier to assure him, “I’ll be back.”
Frazier had just been denied admission to the university because he is black and Kershner, as campus editor of The Student Printz, was writing a story.
“I didn’t talk to him,” Kershner said recently. “He just said, ‘I’ll be back.’
But Frazier never was admitted to USM, and Kershner’s story never ran. The administration confiscated the newspaper and forced Kershner to replace his story about Frazier.
The incident would become an important part of the university’s and Mississippi’s civil rights history, and the two became integral to the story, but they didn’t know it at the time.
Both graduated from college and went on to have families and careers, but their lives came full circle recently when they had an emotional reunion at the university where their first encounter happened.
“It’s a real good feeling to experience the university that should have been 40 years ago,” Frazier said. “Things come in their season and their time. Forty years later, here I am.”