Medgar Evers: Family and Hobbies

On May 8, 2013, in Archives, by Dorian Randall
0

The life of Medgar Evers is synonymous with the civil rights struggle and his strong leadership in the movement. This series, written by Dorian Randall, will explore his life, work, and legacy using related collections at MDAH.

Medgar and Myrlie Evers smiling on a couch.

Medgar and Myrlie Evers smiling on a couch. Accession number: Z.2331.000.S (Medgar Wiley and Myrlie Beasley Papers)

 

Evers with his children, Darrell Kenyatta and Reena.

Evers with his children, Darrell Kenyatta and Reena. Accession number: Z.2231.4.008.S (Medgar Wiley and Myrlie Beasley Papers)

Medgar Evers was dedicated to improving the quality of life of impoverished and disenfranchised African Americans in Mississippi. His work as an insurance salesman with Magnolia Mutual in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, not only prepared him for his work as a field secretary for the NAACP, it gave him a heightened sense of commitment to family. In his book Medgar Evers: Mississippi Martyr, Dr. Michael V. Williams discusses the degradation Evers saw in the Delta and how it helped him develop a “personal awareness of his familial responsibilities and obligations.”1 This dedication was especially strong after the birth of his first child, Darrell Kenyatta, for whom he was an example of “loving roughness,” while being a source of tenderness for daughter Reena.2

Evers had always worked long hours, but his commitments gradually increased in 1962­–63 with James Meredith’s integration of Ole Miss and youth protests in Jackson, Mississippi. His family urged him to rest. In one instance their youngest son, James Van Dyke, broke into song to encourage Evers to take time off. Evers hugged him and said, “That’s Daddy’s boy…That’s all I needed to make me get right up and go out and do a good job today.” 3 Myrlie Evers admired her husband’s diligence and love for Mississippi, but knowing that he needed to relax, she encouraged him to go hunting and fishing:

“He loved his state with hope and only rarely with despair. It was his hope that sustained him. It never left him. Despair came infrequently, and a day of hunting or fishing dispelled it. The love remained.”4

2004.21.1ab

Hunting knife and scabbard. Accession number: 2004.21.1ab (Museum Division Collection)

This artifact, a hunting and fishing knife belonged to Medgar Evers and was found in his desk drawer in the NAACP office after his assassination. His initials, “MWE,” are carved into the leather scabbard. This knife is currently on display in the exhibit “This is Home”: Medgar Evers, Mississippi, and the Movement in the William F. Winter Archives and History Building.


1 Michael V. Williams, Medgar Evers: Mississippi Martyr (Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press, 2011), 61.

2 Myrlie Evers and William Peters For Us the Living (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1996), 117.

3 Evers, For Us the Living, 278.

4 Evers, For Us the Living, 3.

 

 

Medgar Evers: A Legacy of Hope

On April 30, 2013, in Archives, Film, by Dorian Randall
0

The life of Medgar Evers is synonymous with the civil rights struggle and his strong leadership in the movement. This series, written by Dorian Randall, will explore his life, work, and legacy using related collections at MDAH.

Description: This WLBT newsfilm clip depicts Evers at an unknown location, circa 1959.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History will host a series of events and exhibits to commemorate the legacy of Medgar Evers. As part of the History as Lunch Series at the Old Capitol Museum, Myrlie Evers,widow of Medgar Evers, and Mississippi State University professor Michael V. Williams will speak about Evers’ life and work. The Eudora Welty House will also feature an exhibit examining the relationship between Evers’ assassination and Welty’s writing.

Medgar Wiley Evers was one of the strongest voices in the Civil Rights Movement. Evers was born June 2, 1925, in Decatur, Mississippi, to a large family. After serving overseas in World War II, he was honorably discharged as a sergeant of the U.S. Army. Evers completed high school at Alcorn in 1946 and started college in 1948 where he met his future wife Myrlie Beasely in 1950 and also built leadership skills that he would later use as the first field secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for Mississippi. His work with the NAACP included investigating discrimination and racial violence of all kinds against African Americans across the state. After many years of service working for the equality for all Americans, Evers was mortally wounded shortly after arriving home on June 12, 1963.

For more information about the exhibits and events, visit: http://mdah.state.ms.us/senseofplace/2013/04/11/life-of-medgar-evers-commemorated/

 

Artifacts: 1962 Ole Miss Riots

On September 28, 2012, in Artifacts, by Amanda
0

Nan Prince, Assistant Director of Collections in the MDAH Museum Division, brings us this post about interesting artifacts in the collection.

 Tear gas grenade and tear gas canister from Ole Miss riots, 1962. Accession numbers: 1999.6.1 and 2007.2.1 (Museum Division Collection)

Tear gas grenade and tear gas canister from Ole Miss riots, 1962. Accession numbers: 1999.6.1 and 2007.2.1 (Museum Division Collection)

After a prolonged court battle, James Meredith became the first African-American admitted to the University of Mississippi. On September 30, 1962, federal marshals escorted Meredith onto campus. That night white segregationists rioted, hurling bricks, bottles, and gunfire at the marshals who responded by firing tear gas into the crowd. The escalating violence prompted President John F. Kennedy to send over 20,000 U.S. Army troops and federalized Mississippi Guardsmen who quelled the riots. Throughout the night, two people were killed and many more were seriously injured, including over one hundred marshals. The next morning, Meredith walked across a rubble-filled campus to register and attend his first class at Ole Miss. This tear gas grenade and tear gas canister were both found on campus the day after the riot.

Artifacts from the Museum Division collection that are not on exhibit are available for viewing by appointment. Please contact Nan Prince, Assistant Director of Collections, by email to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

John Dittmer, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995).

Charles W. Eagles, “The Fight for Men’s Minds”: The Aftermath of the Ole Miss Riot of 1962 (http://mdah.state.ms.us/pubs/riot.pdf).

Tagged with:
 
Official MissPres 101 Places to See Before You Die Map

Official MissPres 101 Places to See Before You Die Map (Preservation in Mississippi blog)

Black History Month

The Columbus-Lowndes Public Library is featuring local African American history in Ferbruary on its “Local History Announcements” blog.

The National Archives has photographs related to the Tuskegee Airmen. Find out more in this blog post from NARAtions.

Read about the 1942 Negro League World Series and the match up of two great African American baseball players in this post from the National Museum of American History’s “O Say Can You See?” blog.

This post from the “Picture This” blog surveys civil rights era photographs in the Library of Congress collection.

The Smithsonian Collections Blog uses a photograph of composer Duke Ellington to discuss issues related archival practice and digitization.

Valentine’s Day

The National Museum of American History explores love stories in its collections in this post from the “O Say Can You See?” blog.

Explore historic Valentine’s Day cards on the “Picture This” blog of the Library of Congress.

Of Interest

Check out the “Official MissPres 101 Places to See Before You Die Map” on the Preservation in Mississippi blog.

What did Washington, D.C., look like in the 1860s? Find out in this post from the National Museum of American History’s “O Say Can You See?” blog.

Listen to audio clips from Monitor Records albums such as “Russian Cabaret” and “Vienna by Night” on the Smithsonian Collections Blog.

Hargrove Collection Now Online

On November 29, 2011, in Digital Archives, Photographs, by Amanda
0
Six unidentified African American Jackson Police Department officers, 196-. Call Number: PI/2010.0005, item 83 (MDAH Collection)

Six unidentified African American Jackson Police Department officers, 196-. Call Number: PI/2010.0005, item 83 (MDAH Collection)

The Ralph Hargrove Photograph Collection (PI/2010.0005) consists of one-hundred-thirty-six black-and-white photographs of Jackson, Mississippi, from 1927 until 1984. Most of the images were taken during Hargrove’s forty-year career with the Jackson Police Department. Subjects include city government buildings, police department activities, and state and national politicians. The collection features images of the rifle found at the crime scene after the murder of Mississippi civil rights leader Medgar Evers, Jackson’s first African American policemen, U.S. Senator John C. Stennis, Mississippi lieutenant governor Charles Sullivan, Alabama governor George Wallace, and a Jackson city vehicle known as “Thompson’s Tank.”

Anyone with information on the identity of the JPD officers pictured above is encouraged to contact the MDAH Image and Sound section at 601-576-6850.