Special to The Mississippi Link
JACKSON – Myrlie Evers, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute (MMEI), has announced plans for a national commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of her late husband Medgar Evers, Mississippi civil rights pioneer.
Events sponsored by the Institute will begin Wednesday, June 5, in Washington, D. C., and culminate with a community celebration, and tribute gala in Jackson, on Wednesday, June 12. Joining Mrs. Evers in the announcement were representatives of community organizations helping to sponsor the activities and hosting their own events.
Reena Evers-Everette, daughter of Medgar and Myrlie Evers and executive director of the MMEI, announced that a memorial service will be held at her father’s gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery on June 5 at noon.
She added that on the evening on June 5 a symposium entitled “The Legacy of Medgar Evers” will be held at the Newseum in the nation’s capital.
Myrlie Evers, noted civil rights activist Julian Bond, and award-winning investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell will participate in a discussion moderated by national public broadcasting’s Gwen Ifill, host of “Washington Week” and senior correspondent on “PBS NewsHour.”
Other Evers Institute-sponsored events will include guided and self-guided civil rights tours and a showcase of civil right films on Monday and Tuesday, June 10 and 11 in Jackson.
“Where Medgar Walked” tours will offer an opportunity to walk in Evers’ footsteps, according to coordinator Daphne Chamberlain, Ph.D., director of the COFO Civil Rights Education Center. “Remnants of a civil rights past conjure memories of the freedom struggle in the capital city,” Chamberlain said.
“These historic landmarks are stark reminders of a young man called to serve — a young man who paid the ultimate price with his life. From his first office nestled in the heart of what was once a hub for black life in Jackson to the house Evers made a home for his family, visitors will be able to walk where Medgar walked as he fought to change the Mississippi he loved,” Chamberlain continued.
Jeanne Luckett, Medgar Evers 50th Event Director, announced a continuous free showing of films related to Evers and the civil rights movement in Mississippi. The film festival will be showcased at the Davis Planetarium. Feature films, documentaries, and oral history interviews will be included. Among the movies to be shown will be “Ghosts of Mississippi,” “An Ordinary Hero,” “Medgar Evers,” and “Mississippi: Is This America? 1963-64.”
Evers-Everette also noted that the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation is sponsoring a Youth Congress on Tuesday, June 11 as part of a yearlong effort to support the creation of a student-drafted youth platform for positive social change for Mississippi. According to Susan Glisson, Ph. D., director of the William Winter Institute, participants will identify with Medgar Evers’ legacy as young makers of history and preservers and protectors
of Mississippi and their communities.
June 12 will be designated as International Day of Remembrance, according to Mississippi State Senator John Horhn, who presented Mrs. Evers with a concurrent resolution of the Mississippi Senate and House of Representatives adopted on April 3, 2013. The resolution stated that the Day of Remembrance was ” to honor the life and legacy of Medgar Evers and to remember our history with honesty and compassion and with a commitment to seeking understanding, equity and reconciliation across all lines of difference that separate us as members of the human race.”
The Day of Remembrance will feature a “A Celebration on the Green” in the Art Garden of the Mississippi Museum of Art will be held on June 12 from 10 a.m. to 2p.m. Celebration coordinator Jacqueline Berry announced that there will be musical entertainment, poetry readings, and remembrances of Evers’ life from individuals in the community. Book signings and reflections by historians and authors, a literacy fair for children sponsored by Lulalee Productions, and a variety of vendors will add to the festivities.
During the Celebration on the Green, a “Service of the Bells” will occur from 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. This ceremony, coordinated by the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference (MRLC), will be a memorial in praise and song.
MRLC past president Mary Woodward said, “We are asking houses of worship, educational institutions and public facilities to join in a solemn tolling of bells for 30 seconds at 12:00 noon to recall Medgar Evers’ work and sacrifice and then to unite in a joyous pealing of their bells for 30 seconds at 12:30 p.m. to celebrate his legacy and promote reconciliation.”
The ringing of bells will be called for throughout the nation and worldwide, including South Africa and Northern Ireland.
Co-chairmen of the tribute gala Juanita Sims Doty, Ed.D, chairman of the board of the Juanita Sims Doty Foundation, and Derrick Johnson, president of One Voice and the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP, announced that the black-tie gala will unfold at 7:30 p.m. on the 12th at the Jackson Convention Complex.
“This ‘star-studded’ event will honor the life and legacy of Medgar Evers but will also recognize other civil rights legends as we showcase Jackson and Mississippi’s southern hospitality…Hollywood style,” Doty said. “Many noted civil rights icons and entertainers have been invited and will be welcomed to Jackson, walking the ‘red carpet’ and entering a transformed Jackson Convention Complex.”
According to Johnson, invited guests include civil rights activist Vernon Jordan and Mississippi blues legend B.B. King. Other noted entertainers include gospel-recording artist Tamela Mann. Other artists and national dignitaries will be announced at a later date. “This tribute gala will be a fast-paced, entertaining program, and the audience will have the opportunity to experience some historical moments through video presentations and tributes from civil and human rights legends,” Johnson added.
Other individuals and community organizations present at the press conference whose special programs will occur leading up to, during, and following the commemorative week include Charles Evers’ Medgar Evers Homecoming events and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the Mississippi Museum of Art, and the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center — all of whom will feature special Medgar Evers exhibits.