User:Haleyoeth/Paul Guihard

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Paul Guihard
Born 1932
Died September 30, 1962
Oxford, Mississippi
Cause of death Shooting
Nationality American
Employer Agence France-Press

Paul Guihard (1932 - 30 September 1962) was a French journalist for Agence France-Presse for whom he was covering the Civil Rights Movement in the United States in the 1960s. He was murdered during the rioting at the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford after James Meredith attempted to enroll at the all-white school.[1]

Early life[edit]

Guihard was a tall, husky red-bearded bachelor known for his energy and enthusiam and nick-named 'Flash' by fellow reporters.[2]


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 friends. [1]

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". 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.[3]


Shortly before his death, Guihard wrote of the carnival atmosphere among white Mississippians protesting Meredith's enrollment. "People are not at all aware of the enormity of their gesture, of its repercussions and of the interest it is creating all over the world," Guihard wrote. Shot in the back on Sept. 30 during integration riots on the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford. The 30-year-old journalist's body was found in front of a women's dormitory about 8:40 p.m., just 10 minutes after rioting had broken out. President John F. Kennedy provided an Air Force plane to bring his body home to France. In his last story, he wrote about "the most serious constitutional crisis ever experienced by the United States since the war of secession," but added that "the Civil War has never ended." [3]

Guihard was buried at Saint Malo, on October 5, 1962, following a memorial service in New York attended by French and U.S. officials. President John Kennedy wired a personal apology to the French press agency, while the student newspaper at Ole Miss established a scholarship fund in Guihard's name. [2]


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. [1]


Guihard's death was an important international dimension to the Civil Rights Movement, sparking outrage and attracting world media attention. ome 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.[3]


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]


  • Society of Professional Journalists Honors Paul Guihard with Memorial (2009): [4]
  • Letter to the editor (January 25, 2011): [5]


  • Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-1963, Taylor Branch, 668-69 (1988).
  • Promises Kept: John F. Kennedy's New Frontier, Irving Bernstein, 83 (1991).
  • The Bystander: John F. Kennedy and the Struggle for Black Equality, Nick Bryant, 349 (2006).
  • The Cold War and the Color Line: American race relations in the global arena, Thomas Borstelmann, 159 (2009).
  • The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes, Michael Newton, 148-149 (2009).
  • The Opinions of Mankind: [6]

Journal articles[edit]

  • Journalism History: [7]
  • The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education [8]


  1. ^ a b c d "Paul Guihard-50webs". Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  2. ^ a b "The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes - Michael Newton - Google Books". Retrieved 2014-04-15.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "unsolvedcrimes" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  3. ^ a b c "Details for GUIHARD, PAUL". Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  4. ^ April 14, 2009 (2009-04-14). "Society of Professional Journalists Honors Paul Guihard with Memorial". Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  5. ^ "Content about Paul Guihard | The Daily Mississippian". Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  6. ^ Lentz, Richard Glen; Gower, Karla K. (2011). The Opinions of Mankind: Racial Issues, Press, and Progaganda in the Cold War. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press. p. 145. Retrieved 2014-02-14. 
  7. ^ Wickham, Kathleen Woodruff (2011). "Murder in Mississippi". Journalism History. 37 (2).  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  8. ^ Bryant, Nick (2006). "The Black Man Who Was Crazy Enough to Apply to Ole Miss". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (53): 60–71.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)

External links[edit]

Persondata | NAME = Guihard, Paul | ALTERNATIVE NAMES = Flash | SHORT DESCRIPTION = French journalist | DATE OF BIRTH = 1932 | PLACE OF BIRTH = | DATE OF DEATH = 30 September 1962 | PLACE OF DEATH = Oxford, Mississippi

DEFAULTSORT:Guihard, Paul}

Category:1932 births Category:1962 deaths Category:1962 murders in the United States Category:French journalists Category:French people murdered abroad Category:People murdered in Mississippi Category:Murdered journalists Category:Unsolved murders in the United States Category:Deaths by firearm in Mississippi Category:History of civil rights in the United States