Alcorn State Celebrates Medgar Evers’ Civil Rights Legacy - Higher Education
Higher Education News and Jobs

Alcorn State Celebrates Medgar Evers’ Civil Rights Legacy


by Pearl Stewart

Medgar Evers

The Evers family gathers at the bronze statue of the late civil rights activist Medgar Evers on the Alcorn State campus.

LORMAN, Miss. — It was fitting that the weeklong commemoration of Medgar Evers’ contributions to the Civil Rights movement should be capped off at a historically Black university that played a vital role in his life and his commitment to social justice.

Alcorn State University, a thriving land-grant institution in rural Mississippi, hosted the last leg of celebrations in the state honoring Evers 50 years after his assassination.

Evers was a graduate of Alcorn, and his widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, holds the position of distinguished scholar-in-residence. On Thursday, Alcorn brought together speakers, entertainers and dignitaries for the Medgar Wiley Evers Memorial dedication.

The highlight of the event was the unveiling of a larger-than-life bronze statue of Evers located in the heart of the sprawling campus, where Evers-Williams helped establish a social justice  institute in his honor.

Television host and Mississippi native Tavis Smiley headlined the events, serving as keynote speaker at the dedication and master of ceremonies at the luncheon. Smiley described his close friendship to the Evers family — Evers’ son Van and daughter Sheila are members of his television talk show staff.

Smiley encouraged the sizeable audience of Alcorn students, faculty and community residents to emulate Evers’ life of service. Addressing the students, specifically, he said, “Medgar Evers was just an ordinary man; Myrlie Evers was just an ordinary woman. But they were ordinary people who did extraordinary things. … When your moment comes, you can have the same courage, you can have the same conviction, you can have the same commitment, you can have the same character. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things.”

  Study Finds Taking Class Online Does Not Necessarily Improve Outcomes

Smiley also said leaders can come from all walks of life, advising students that they did not have to be wealthy or even have numerous degrees to become leaders. “Leadership is about loving and serving people … that is the responsibility that each and every one of us bears even 50 years later.”

Earlier in the program, Rev. Jesse Jackson gave a stirring remembrance of Evers as a fellow civil rights leader and said his legacy remains alive through the actions of others. “Medgar Evers still lives — he lives every time we vote, he lives every time we choose school over jail … he lives every time we choose love over hate and courage over fear.”

Evers, as head of the NAACP in Mississippi, was targeted because of his efforts to register Black voters throughout the state and to integrate eating establishments in the capital city of Jackson. Evers led the historic sit-in at the Woolworth lunch counter in 1963 just two weeks before his assassination. His assassin, Byron De La Beckwith, wasn’t convicted until 1994, and later died in prison.

The statue, unveiled before Evers-Williams and several family members as the crowd looked on, was designed and sculpted by nationally acclaimed sculptor Ed Dwight. It will be a part of the Mississippi Civil Rights Trail. The Toyota Motors Corporation was the largest contributor to the project.

The Alcorn event concluded several days of commemoration for the slain leader, statewide and nationally, including a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., on June 5, featuring former President Bill Clinton.

  Pembroke University Celebrates 125 Years of Accomplishments, Growth
After Charlottesville Incident, UVA Students Mobilized Voters to the Polls CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.--Bret Curtis, a fourth-year student at the University of Virginia, watched as recent events catapulted his beloved university into the national spotlight. There was the abduction and murder of a student, a high-profile magazine a...
Professor Apologizes for Fiery Response to Muslim Student CINCINNATI — A University of Cincinnati music teacher has apologized for his fiery online responses to a Muslim student who was critical of Donald Trump’s presidency and talked about celebrating freedom and diversity. College-Conservatory of Music...
Pennsylvania Education Leader Going Extra Mile for Diversity  Long bike rides are an annual tradition for Dr. John Sygielski, who spent several weeks biking from New Orleans to Nashville this summer, traveling along the Natchez Trace Parkway and passing through Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Along the w...
As Tax Plan Rolls Out, Activists Stake Claim for Diversity WASHINGTON — On the same day that House Republicans rolled out a sweeping new tax plan that critics say favors the rich at the expense of the poor, Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network rolled into town Thursday in an effort to convert its activ...
Semantic Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *