Special to The Mississippi Link
JACKSON – In observance of the 50th anniversary of his death, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) will commemorate the life of civil rights leader Medgar Evers with exhibits and programs.
Evers was the Mississippi field secretary for the NAACP from 1954 until his assassination in the driveway of his family’s home in Jackson on June 11, 1963.
On May 1, a History Is Lunch lecture by Myrlie Evers-Williams, former director of the NAACP and Medgar Evers’s widow, will open the exhibit “This is Home”: Medgar Evers, Mississippi, and the Movement.
Evers-Williams is now a distinguished scholar-in-residence at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Miss.
Drawing on photographs, artifacts, documents, and newsfilm footage from the MDAH collection, the exhibit will cover Evers’s early life and family, his career with the NAACP, and his death. The exhibit will run through October at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building in Jackson, then travel the state.
The impact of Evers’s killing was immediate and widespread, influencing the work of writers, poets, musicians, and other artists. At the Eudora Welty House the exhibit The Murder of Medgar Evers and “Where is the Voice Coming From?” will examine how that event impelled Eudora Welty to write one of the most gripping and political stories of her career, as well as the repercussions Welty faced after her story was published in The New Yorker. The free exhibit will run May 15 through December 15 at the Eudora Welty Education and Visitor Center.
On Wednesday, May 29, Michael V. Williams, author of Medgar Evers: Mississippi Martyr and Mississippi State University professor, will be the speaker at History Is Lunch at Old Capitol Museum.
Myrlie Evers-Williams donated the papers of her husband to MDAH.
The collection is divided into two subgroups: papers of Evers as Mississippi field secretary for the NAACP, and the family papers of Medgar Evers. The first group includes primary documents relating to civil rights actions, petitions for improvements to black schools, affidavits signed by African Americans denied the right to register to vote, reports on investigations of racial incidents, materials used to develop speeches, and newspaper clippings from his files.
Evers’s papers as field secretary show how closely he worked with national, state, and local NAACP leaders to facilitate organizational goals in Mississippi during the early years of the civil rights movement. Included are minutes for the Jackson branch of the NAACP meetings between 1955 and 1959 and monthly reports to NAACP headquarters for 1955–61; correspondence regarding reported instances of assault and battery, denial of civil rights, economic reprisals, police brutality, segregation, and voting discrimination against African Americans in Mississippi; correspondence concerning the murder of Emmett Till and denial of admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi; and letters to Evers from Julian Bond and Thurgood Marshall.
The family papers include correspondence, financial records, photographs, cards, and other items that reflect the activities and interests of Medgar Evers, his wife, and their three children. The Evers Collection can be accessed at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building located on the corner of North and Amite Streets in downtown Jackson.
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History is the second-oldest state department of archives and history in the United States. The department collects, preserves, and provides access to the archival resources of the state, administers various museums and historic sites, and oversees statewide programs for historic preservation, state and local government records management, and publications.