James Meredith became the fifth individual in the University of Mississippi‘s history to receive one of the university’s most prestigious honors, the Mississippi Humanitarian Award. It has been given to only four other changemakers since it was established. The first award was given in 2001 to philanthropist and education champion Jim Barksdale and his late wife, Sally McDonnell Barksdale. In 2003, the late former governor of Mississippi, William Winter and his late wife, Elise Winter, received the award. In 2013, the university honored Myrlie Evers-Williams, wife of slain civil rights icon Medgar Evers. The most recent recipient was the late U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in 2018.