The Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute will join many organizations and communities across Mississippi and the nation in a 60-year commemoration of the work of civil rights martyr Medgar Evers beginning June 6, 2023.
Medgar Wiley Evers was born July 2, 1925, in Decatur, MS. He joined the Army in 1943 during the height of World War II and earned the rank of sergeant. After his discharge in 1945, he returned to Mississippi and enrolled at Alcorn A. & M. College (now Alcorn State University).
In his senior year at Alcorn, Medgar fell in love with a freshman named Myrlie Beasley from Vicksburg. They married in 1951 and looked forward to a life together in insurance sales in Mound Bayou under the guidance of early civil rights leader and physician Dr. T. R. M. Howard. Dr. Howard knew that the state of Mississippi banned any of its employees from membership in the NAACP and organized the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) as a means of attracting over 10,000 Black professionals and laymen to the organization.
Medgar was named the NAACP’s first Field Secretary for Mississippi in 1954 and reported directly to the national office rather than being under the command of the fledgling state conference. During his nine years of field work, he was involved in some of the most important cases in the civil rights struggle. Some of these were the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation order; the 1955 investigation and trial of the Emmett Till murder; the Clyde Kennard failed effort to gain admission to the University of Southern Mississippi in 1958; the 1961 Tougaloo 9 sit-in at the Jackson Public Library; and the successful integration effort by James Meredith at the University of Mississippi in 1962; among many others.
Evers was shot to death in his driveway in Jackson in the early morning of June 12, 1963, leaving behind his widow, Myrlie and their three young children, Darrell, Van, and Reena. Myrlie Evers moved the family to California in 1964, but remained deeply attached to the civil rights movement, becoming the national chair of the NAACP 1995-1998.
Byron De La Beckwith was finally convicted of Evers’ murder in 1994 and was sentenced to life in prison. He died in January 2021 while serving his time.
June 12, 2023, marks the 60th anniversary of Medgar Evers’ assassination
The Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument at 2332 Margaret Walker Alexander Drive, Jackson. Medgar Evers was shot in parking space of his home by white supremacist Byron de la Beckwith shortly after midnight on June 12, 1963. (Photo: National Park Service)
The Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute has announced the Voices of Courage and Justice 60th Festivities, a week-long commemoration beginning June 6 at the Jackson Convention Complex, the Two Mississippi Museums, Smith-Robertson Museum, and Millsaps College. Myrlie Evers is scheduled to receive a lifetime achievement award at the June 8th More than a Widow Brunch.
Beginning on June 1 and running through June 30, the two Mississippi Museums are presenting “This is Home: Medgar Evers, Mississippi, and the Movement,” an exhibit developed by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to mark the 60th anniversary of the assassination of Evers by examining the life, death, and impact of the civil rights hero.
A select number of events scheduled for the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute Voices of Courage and Justice Festivities include the following:
• June 6-7: Images of the Movement Exhibit at the Mississippi Museum of Art. And Gen Z Summit at Millsaps College, students from across the nation will explore best practices of advocacy and activism (Invitation Only).
• June 8: Beginning at 10 a.m., ceremony for the Grand Opening of the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument at 2332 Margaret Walker Alexander Drive, in Jackson. And from 12-2 p.m., the Myrlie Evers: More Than a Widow Brunch at Jackson Convention Complex, recognizing and celebrating the life and work of Myrlie Evers and Black excellence and culture. At 7 p.m., a special screening of the Emmett Till film at the Two Mississippi Museums.
• June 9: The Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute Courage and Justice Gala is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Jackson Convention Center Complex. Tickets to the festivities are available at https://mmei60.org/
• June 10: Beginning at Freedom Corner, Evers Parade celebrating and honoring the life of Medgar, Myrlie, and Charles Evers.
(For a complete schedule, go to: https://eversinstitute.org/evers-60th-schedule/)
The City of Vicksburg will pay tribute to its native daughter Myrlie Evers and her late spouse Medgar Evers in a Voices of Courage and Justice: Honoring Medgar and Myrlie Evers program at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 4, at the Artis J. Williams, Sr. City Auditorium.
Medgar and Myrlie Evers were partners in the civil rights struggle, Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs said in a prepared statement. The assassination of Medgar Evers was the first murder of a nationally significant leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, and it became a catalyst for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Myrlie Evers continues to promote issues of racial equality and social justice. And their daughter, Reena Evers-Everette also continues their legacy through social justice activism, he said.
Former Vicksburg Mayor and NAACP Field Secretary Robert M. Walker is the keynote speaker.
“This is an exciting time,” Flaggs said. “The City of Vicksburg cordially invites you to a reception honoring these two civil rights heroes.”