The Scene in Oxford

A few words about the locale of tonight’s debate: the University of Mississippi.

Producer Sam Haskell, the former head of television at William Morris, has been working in Oxford with the chancellor of Ole Miss, Robert Khayat.

Haskell, who is also chairman of the capital campaign for the university, says that they’ve been working to spread the message that it is a much different place than it was in 1962, when white students riots to protest the integration of the school with its first black student, James Meredith.

“We want to get the message out that racial issues have so, so gone by the wayside,” Haskell says. “Unfortunately, a lot of people’s perceptions seem to be what it was as opposed to what it is.”

“For many people, 1962 is locked in their memory, as far as Ole Miss is concerned,” Khayat told the New York Times this week. “Now, 46 years later, we’re hosting the presidential debate and one of the candidates is an African-American. That, I think, speaks volumes about where we were and where we are.”

Also expected to be present tonight: Oxford native John Grisham, a longtime Democrat.

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