[Mississippi History Newsletter Online.]

A MDAH Publication  |  Volume 44 No. 5  |  May 2002

Evers Papers “Come Home” to Mississippi

On April 25 Myrlie Evers, widow of civil rights leader and martyr Medgar Evers, presented fifty-five boxes of her husband’s personal papers and her own to the state of Mississippi. It has been almost forty years since she left the state with her three children after the murder of Evers, the first Mississippi field secretary of the NAACP. A Vicksburg native, Myrlie Evers became a nationally prominent business executive, public servant, and chairperson of the NAACP. She came home to place the invaluable documents with the Department of Archives and History, where they will be secure but also available to students and scholars for study.

“It was very difficult to let them go,” Evers said to the large audience assembled in the House chamber of the Old Capitol—among them three governors, legislators and other state officials, and civil rights leader C.C. Bryant of McComb. “They were something near and dear to me. I could pick them up and feel a little bit of Medgar.” She spoke of her love of this state and her determination to make the world understand the sacrifices the state of Mississippi made in the struggle for its citizens’ human rights. She is in the process of establishing a Medgar Evers Institute in Mississippi, another means by which she hopes to honor the heroes of the civil rights era.

Former governor and MDAH Board of Trustees president William F. Winter, who presided at the ceremony, called Myrlie and Medgar Evers Mississippi heroes. “In opening these papers we have the opportunity to make a strong public statement: that the Mississippi Department of Archives and History belongs to every single person in the state,” he said. “We collect documents and artifacts that reveal the truth about our history, no matter how painful the truth is.”

Winter said that Medgar Evers’s papers will be invaluable to researchers for their intimate perspective on events of the 1960s; and that Myrlie Evers’s papers reflecting her tenure with the NAACP—when her leadership saved the organization from bankruptcy—will provide a firsthand look at that era. The Evers Collection will be the first new major collection opened to researchers in the new William F. Winter Archives and History Building.

Also offering remarks at the ceremony were Elbert R. Hilliard, MDAH director; Governor Ronnie Musgrove; and, representing the Jackson City Council, Dr. Leslie McLemore. A moving video presentation, “The Medgar and Myrlie Evers Legacy,” produced by Jeanne Luckett of Communication Arts Company of Jackson, was shown, and the Utica Jubilee Singers of Hinds Community College performed at the opening and close of the ceremony. The event was videotaped by Time Warner, which will broadcast it at a later date.


Lucy Allen Named Museum Director

Lucy Allen is the new director of the Department’s Museum Division. A graduate of East Carolina University, Allen has been associated with MDAH since 1978. She served as historian and assistant curator of exhibits until January of 1994 when she became director of the Old Capitol’s educational programs. Allen is a graduate of the prestigious Winedale Museum Seminar sponsored by the Texas Historical Commission and University of Texas Center for American History. “Lucy is well qualified to lead the division as we continue to build on the splendid work that has been accomplished during the past three decades by the previous Museum directors, Donna Dye, Patti Carr Black, and Dr. Byrle Kynerd,” said MDAH director Elbert R. Hilliard. “I look forward to working with Lucy in this new capacity.”


2002 History Day Results

At the April 13 History Day activities held in Hattiesburg among Junior Historical Societies around the state, Oscar “Skipper” Jones of Biloxi High School was named Teacher of Merit, and Murrah High School received the Community Service Award. Other prizes were as follows: Oak Grove High School, first place, Senior Exhibits; first place, Senior Division essay winner, Jacquelyn Harris, Grenada High School; Senior Individual Exhibit, Cherish Crouch, Grenada High School; first place, Senior Group Performance, Grenada High School; first place, Senior Individual Performance, Rachel Nuwer, Biloxi High School; first place, Junior Individual Performance, Hanna Skewes, Gautier Middle School; first place, Junior Individual Exhibit, Lamees El-Sadek, Crystal Springs Middle School; first place, Junior Group Exhibits, Grenada Middle School; and first place, senior division, Quiz Bowl, Solomon Junior High School, Greenville; junior division, Hattiesburg High School (Rowan Center).


This Month Series Begins

Opening May 1, the Old Capitol Museum starts a new ongoing exhibit, This Month in Mississippi History. Every month the display will focus on a topic in our state’s history, providing a brief overview, graphics, maps, and photographs. This Month will begin with the pivotal Civil War battle of Champion Hill, which took place near Edwards, Mississippi, on May 16, 1863. Upcoming topics include the Neshoba County Murders in 1964 (June); Andrew Marschalk publishes Mississippi Herald in 1802 (July); Isle of Capri opens in Biloxi in 1992 (August); and Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek signed in 1830 (September).


Long Beach History Published

Rosalie and Radishes: A History of Long Beach, Mississippi, updated from its 1980 version (now out of print) —and with many new photos and maps added—has been published in its third edition by author and town historian Mary Ellen Alexander. The book’s title comes from the fact that for the first two decades of the 20th century, Long Beach was a vegetable mecca, the self-styled Radish Capital of the World. The banner year of 1921 witnessed over 300 trainloads of radishes headed up north, where beer lovers munched on them as they drank. Copies of the soft-cover edition are $27.95 each and can be ordered from the author at 200 E. Second Street, Long Beach, MS 39560.


Obituaries

Gary Mills, 1944-2002

Gary Bernard Mills, of Northport, Alabama, died January 25, 2002, in Tuscaloosa. Mills was professor of history at the University of Alabama and associate editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly since 1987. His publications include the award-winning Forgotten People: Cane River’s Creoles of Color; and Southern Loyalists in the Civil War. Born in Texas, Mills was reared on an old rice plantation in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta, and he took special delight in writing a bicentennial history for the Corps of Engineers, Of Men and Rivers, which told the story of the Vicksburg District Corps.

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Published by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History • Elbert R. Hilliard, director • Chrissy Wilson, editor
Please send correspondence to: MHN, P.O. Box 571, Jackson, MS 39205 or email to pubinfo@mdah.state.ms.us