The National Park Service has unveiled a bronze plaque showing that the Mississippi home of civil rights leaders Medgar and Myrlie Evers is a national historic landmark.
More than 100 people, including the couple’s friends and relatives, gathered for a ceremony Thursday outside the home.
“Every time I come to this spot, to our house, I say, ’I love you, Daddy. Thank you for being there for all of us,’” said their daughter, Reena Evers-Everette. “With this special distinction, my father’s legacy, and so many others, continues.”
Medgar Evers was a World War II veteran who fought in Europe and returned to his native Mississippi to again face harsh segregation. As the first field secretary of the Mississippi NAACP beginning in 1954, he led voter registration drives and boycotts to push for racial equality. He was assassinated June 12, 1963, outside the family’s modest ranch-style home.
Myrlie Evers was national chairwoman of the NAACP from 1995 to 1998. After living in Mississippi in recent years, she moved back to California, where she raised her three children after their father’s death.
The Interior Department approved the landmark designation in 2016 and announced it last year. State and federal officials are also pushing for the home to become a national monument, which would provide further protection.
The Evers family donated the home to historically black Tougaloo College in 1993, and it is open by appointment for tours. The three-bedroom home stood vacant for years after the family moved away in the 1960s, and it was restored in the mid-1990s. It is now filled with midcentury furniture, and one of the bedrooms has a display about the family’s history. A bullet hole is visible in a kitchen wall.
Medgar Evers was a mentor for Tougaloo students, including some who were arrested in 1961 for their sit-in challenging segregation in the main public library in Jackson.
Medgar Evers is remembered not “because he died at the hands of a coward in his driveway,” Tougaloo President Beverly Wade Hogan told the audience, but because “he gave so much to helping … the state of Mississippi and America become a better place.”
Bill Justice, superintendent of the Vicksburg National Military Park, read a letter Thursday from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, praising the work of Medgar Evers: “He fought to shine a spotlight on injustice. He fought to realize the humanity and dignity of all people.”
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Source: Associated Press