Special to The Mississippi Link
LORMAN – June 13, 2013, will forever be written in history as a day when the life and legacy of American hero and Alcorn alum Medgar Wiley Evers ’52 was honored by dedicating a heroic size statue on the campus of his alma mater. Hundreds gathered for the memorial dedication ceremony to witness the historic event.
The official dedication of the Medgar Wiley Evers ’52 Memorial Statue, began with presenting of the colors by Mississippi Highway Patrol Honor Guard, the Pledge of Allegiance, and an invocation by Reverend Dr. Jerry Young, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi. Erin Pickens, anchor at WJTV, CBS, served as Mistress of Ceremony.
In a word of inspiration, Reverend Jesse Jackson exclaimed, “Medgar lives in our hearts, in our souls and our actions. His blood fertilized the soil to grow a new America. He lives every time we vote, we choose school over prison, and we stand together in a coalition. His blood keeps oozing power, justice and joy.”
The program continued with the Heritage Anthem by the Alcorn State University Men Chorale and the statement of occasion by Marcus Ward ’00, vice president for Institutional Advancement and executive director, ASU Foundation, Inc. “We are here today not only to reflect on Medgar’s death, but to look to the future because Medgar does live, his story lives. Today we unveil a monument as a testament to his legacy, life and contributions.”
Alcorn President M. Christopher Brown II welcomed the audience and said, “On this bright morning, we find ourselves on the brink of a new idea…on the cusp of unveiling a symbol of hope and ambition.” He added, “It has been 50 years, and today we welcome Medgar home. We live as we do because Medgar died as he did. As Medgar inhaled death he exhaled freedom. He swallowed blood and spit out justice. He ingested racism simply to belch forth possibility. The destruction of his mortal flesh was the reconstruction of American humanity. His life and legacy will forever be with us.”
The program continued with remarks from Dr. Derrick Sims of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi State Senator John Horhn, Alcorn State University National Alumni Association President James C. Stubbs ’73, Memorial Statue Committee Representative John Jones Jr., and Sculptor Ed Dwight.
In his brief remarks, Medgar Evers’ brother Charles Evers ’50, thanked Alcorn and everybody who played a role in the success we share today, and reminded the audience that “the work has just begun.”
A matriarch of the civil rights movement and Medgar’s widow Myrlie Evers said, addressing distinguished Alcornites and friends, “We all come together today in memory of a man that we admire and love. Thank you for celebrating his life and honoring his legacy in this special way. Medgar was never about publicity, he was about doing his job and serving his people, and the statue brings all those qualities together.” Addressing students, she noted, “I believe that students will not just walk by the memorial. They will learn about Medgar and other heroes that Alcorn produced. They will pick-up the spirit of Medgar that it will challenge them to do even better than they thought they could.”
Mrs. Evers’ remarks were followed by musical selection by renowned gospel artist Lady Tramaine Hawkins.
In his keynote address, PBS and NPR’s Tavis Smiley thanked the Evers family and reminded the audience about the necessity of living Medgar’s legacy, “I can’t imagine how Medgar found courage to do the things he did during those times. Medgar was just an ordinary man but he did extraordinary things. And when that moment comes for you, you will find the same courage, conviction and commitment that Medgar had.”
The official dedication continued with the unveiling of the larger-than-life statue of a determined, forward reaching Evers. Standing at the gateway to the Medgar Wiley Evers Heritage Village, Alcorn’s new state-of-the-art student living and learning complex, it features quotes and an account of Evers’ most notable achievements and contributions to American history.
The ceremony closed with benediction by Dr. Isaic Jackson Jr., Liberty Baptist Church in Canton, Mississippi, and another musical selection by Tramaine Hawkins, ASU Men Chorale, and the Alcorn Combined Staff Chorus.
At the Medgar Evers Torch of Justice Awards Luncheon that followed the dedication, two distinguished individuals known for advocating and promoting justice and freedom, received the inaugural awards: Myrlie Evers was presented with the inaugural national Torch of Justice Award, and Ambassador Andrew Young was awarded the Torch of Justice in the international category. Sculptor Ed Dwight surprised the audience and Mrs. Evers by presenting a bronze bust of Medgar Evers to her, so, “She didn’t have to go to the statue every time she wanted to see Medgar.”
Katina Rankin, WLBT’s morning anchor, served as Mistress of Ceremony for the awards luncheon.
Take 6, seven-time Grammy and eight-time Dove Award winners and Billboard Jazz Award winner Lalah Hathaway, the daughter of music legend Donnie Hathaway performed during the awards luncheon.