Who Killed Paul Guihard ? Part 1 (podcast)

As protests against police brutality and racism roil the United States, AFP remembers one of its own, reporter Paul Guihard, the only journalist killed during the US civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s.

Below please find a 2019 podcast on our investigation into his killing, which remains unsolved.


On Sunday September 30, 1962, Agence France-Presse's journalist Paul Guihard and photographer Sammy Schulman left the AFP bureau in New York to cover the enrolment of James Meredith at the University of Mississippi. Meredith was to become the first African-American to be admitted to Ole Miss, amid violent opposition.

It was one of the pivotal moments in the US civil rights movement and the world was watching to see how President John F. Kennedy was going to handle the challenge. More than 300 journalists headed to Oxford, Mississippi, to witness Meredith enroll in the school, accompanied by National Guard troops. The AFP team had experience in conflict -- Paul Guihard had served in the British army and Sammy Schulman covered the 1944 liberation of Europe as an American military photographer. Neither could know that in a few hours, they would be caught in a full-scale riot that would end in tragedy.


(Photo Éric Baradat / AFP)

Secession’s last battle


James Meredith, an Air Force veteran, had spent 18 months fighting for the right to attend the University of Mississippi that, like many schools in the American South at the time, did not accept black students. 

Paul Guihard was a French-British national who spoke with a strong British accent and constantly wore a tweed jacket, even in the summer.

Sammy Schulman was an American photographer who spent several years in Paris following the D-Day landings and who joined Agence France-Presse when he returned to New York. He was in charge of covering the John F. Kennedy presidency in the early 1960s.

The caption of this picture dated December 10, 1960 and taken by Sammy Schulman reads: 
The son of President-elect John F. Kennedy has been baptised at the age of 13 days at the Georgetown University chapel during a private ceremony. 

Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy and their son are posing at the end of the service. The child is wearing a baptism gown worn by his father during his own baptism in 1917.

On September 30, 1962, Schullman was teaming up with Guihard to cover the riots. Sidna Brower, the editor of the university daily “The Mississippian” had opended the doors of her newspaper to journalists covering the riots and Schulman was working in the darkroom with her when a student opened the door :


As President Kennedy addressed the country in the evening, explaining his decision to send in troops to accompany Meredith, riots exploded at Ole Miss, fuelled by hundreds of protesters who had come from other southern states to stop the university accepting its first black student. Journalists would later write that the riot was “the last battle of the secession war."

A group of students had found Guihard lying on the ground near a dormitory. He was lying on his back and at first they thought he had suffered a heart attack and tried to revive him. In the darkness they couldn’t see that his tweed jacket was soaked with blood -- Guihard had been murdered, shot in the back from a foot away.

Who killed Paul Guihard ? is a production of the Interactive Graphics Team at AFP. Design by Fred Bourgeais and Jacky Fong; illustrations by David Lory; text editing by Yana Dlugy; file pictures by Cecile Cadel.

The podcast was produced by Laurent Kalfala.

With : Kathleen Wickham , Hank Klibanoff , Sidna Brower, Don Emmert, Michel Nouaillas and Francois Pelou. 
Sound archives came from the JFK library and the movie “Two men in Manhattan” by Jean-Pierre Melville. Thanks to Jeffery Reed of Taproot Studio .