From The Mississippi Link Newswire
Civil rights icon, Alcorn alum to be honored
LORMAN – Medgar Wiley Evers had big dreams when he arrived on the campus of Alcorn A&M College in the summer of 1948. It is likely that those dreams involved becoming an All-American football player, participating in campus activities, and ultimately earning a college degree. It is hard to imagine that his dreams were enormous enough to predict the phenomenal impact his life and legacy would have on the United States and the world.
Yet, half a century after his untimely demise, thousands of Americans will journey to Mississippi to commemorate one of the foremost leaders in American civil rights history.
Alcorn State University will share in commemoration activities by dedicating a historic memorial at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 13, in Lorman, Mississippi, to forever honor the life and contributions of Medgar Wiley Evers. The unveiling of the Medgar Wiley Evers Memorial will serve as a culminating event of the 50thanniversary programs and events.
The memorial, designed and constructed by nationally acclaimed sculptor Ed Dwight, will feature a larger-than-life bronze statue of a determined, forward reaching Evers. Standing at the gateway to The MWE Heritage Village, Alcorn’s new state-of-the-art student living and learning complex, it will feature quotes and an account of Evers’ most notable achievements and contributions to American history.
Thousands are expected to attend the national dedication ceremony which will immediately be followed by the inaugural Medgar Wiley Evers Torch of Justice Awards Luncheon at noon on the Alcorn campus. The luncheon will feature prominent, nationally renowned speakers and entertainers as well as state and national leaders. The event will also include the presentation of a Torch of Justice Award to distinguished and noted U.S. and international champions of justice.
“Alcorn State is proud to honor the courage and leadership of Medgar Evers, our esteemed alumnus, national hero and distinguished Mississippian,” stated Dr. M. Christopher Brown II, 18th president of Alcorn State University. “His legacy inspires the world and particularly students, in their pursuit of knowledge and character to make the world a better place.”
It was at Alcorn, where Medgar gained a formal education that strengthened his understanding and devotion to civil rights activism. He became one of the most visible and respected leaders of the American Civil Rights Movement. His assassination on June 12, 1963, is considered the major motivation for President John F. Kennedy to ask Congress to immediately pass comprehensive civil rights legislation which ultimately became the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Ironically, Kennedy would not sign this bill into law, because he too, would fall victim to an assassin’s bullet just five months after Medgar in 1963.
“I met Medgar my first day as a freshman right here on Alcorn State’s campus,” remembered Mrs. Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of Medgar Evers and currently a Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at Alcorn State. “How ironic and fitting it is that current and future generations will forever see him, if you will, and get to know him at the same place that I did. I am personally moved and I am thrilled about this memorial.”
Medgar Evers has been publicly honored in many ways. Post office buildings, a public library, major thoroughfares, the Jackson, Mississippi, international airport and Medgar Evers College, part of the City College of New York system all bear his name. In 2011, the U.S. Navy christened a humanitarian mission ship the USNS Medgar Evers, the first vessel ever to bear the name of a civil rights activist. The statue at Alcorn State University will be the largest known to be commissioned and created to honor Medgar Wiley Evers.