The James Meredith statue on the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford
The James Meredith statue on the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford

Austin Reed Edenfield was sentenced Thursday to one year probation and to write a report from a William Faulkner novel for his part in hanging a noose and flag bearing the Confederate battle emblem on the University of Mississippi’s statue of James Meredith, its first black student.

U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills pronounced sentence on Edenfield in the Oxford federal courthouse.

In addition to probation, Mills – a writer and well known storyteller – ordered Edenfield to read Chapter 19 of Faulkner’s “A Light in August” and send him a five-page hand-written report on the reading.

Edenfield, a former Ole Miss student and Georgia resident, agreed March 24 to plead guilty to a one-count misdemeanor that in 2014 he aided and abetted another person to intimidate black students and employees at the Oxford university.

He and then-fellow student Phillip Graeme Harris were arrested in March 2015 after the statue draping was discovered. Harris recently completed a six-month prison term.

The statue incident drew national attention and brought university leadership to introduce sweeping reforms on campus, including hiring a vice chancellor for diversity.

Other changes included a study with recommendations on campus Confederate symbols, a mandatory freshman orientation on race and university history, and changing a major street’s name from Confederate Drive to Chapel Lane.

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