“Ole Miss” is the controversial nickname of The University of Mississippi, a public research university, which wasn’t open for Black students until James Meredith applied for admission. After two rejections and a legal battle, Meredith was finally enrolled on 1st October 1962, becoming the first African American student and paving the way for future students like Dr. Antoinette Liles.
Martin Luther King described Meredith as “a symbol of self-respect and dignity,” appreciating his heroism. Constantly guarded by reserve US deputy marshals and army troops as he endured harassment by some of the students, Meredith realized his dream of graduating from the previously all-white University of Mississippi with a degree in Political Science.
Decades later, after overcoming a troubling childhood, Antoinette joined the list of African Americans graduating from “Ole Miss” and completed her Doctorate in Dental Medicine as a Hinman Scholar in Dental School. As a celebrated dentist who has made a name for herself in a male-dominant field, Antoinette founded Mint Dental, an independently owned dental office in Pearl, Mississippi.
Refusing to be phased by her struggles and after going through a divorce in 2019, Antoinette began her entrepreneurial journey. Her first patient was none other than the very same man who had dared to take a stand to make it possible: Dr. James Meredith. It is impossible to describe feelings of joy and pride overwhelming both Antoinette and Meredith. The moment was a celebration of the realization of her dreams and the history of a fight for equality.
Antoinette has achieved remarkable success as an entrepreneur. She is also a TV star starring in Oprah Winfrey Network’s Reality TV series Belle Collective. The show follows five businesswomen from Mississippi working together to redevelop their historic district. As a celebrated community leader, Antoinette aspires to carry the torch passed on to her by heroes such as her first patient Dr. James Meredith.
She emphasizes the need to represent the African American community in dentistry and is the founder of the Mentorship/Scholarship program aptly named MINTorship. The non-profit organization provides shadowing and scholarships to pre-dental HBCU students in Mississippi.With your donation, you can support young black students and the future of dentistry.
Antoinette expresses her wish to retire by the age of 40. But before that, she is resolute in her commitment to producing more black dentists from HBCU schools.
The nickname of her alma mater, “Ole Miss,” derived from the plantation days in Mississippi, serves as a stark reminder of a not-so-distant history of oppression. But like her heroes, Antoinette is proudly fighting for equality as a successful entrepreneur who rose against all odds to set an example for women belonging to a minority, inspiring them to break barriers and challenge the status quo to reimagine a more inclusive future.
Be a part of her journey and know more about Dr. Antoinette here.