Medgar Evers: A Legacy of Hope

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

 

Hall of Fame: Garvin Dugas Shands

On September 22, 2011, in Artifacts, Portraits, by Amanda
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Nominations are currently being sought for the 2011 class of the Mississippi Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honors women and men who made noteworthy contributions to the state. Consideration for the Hall of Fame takes place only once every five years and any Mississippian—native or adopted—deceased at least five years may be nominated. The deadline for nominations is October 1, and elections will be held at a special meeting of the MDAH board of trustees in December. Click here for complete nomination guidelines.

This series recognizes members of the Hall of Fame, whose portraits hang in the Old Capitol Museum. Special thanks to Anna Todd, University of Southern Mississippi student and MDAH summer intern, for researching this post.

Garvin D. Shands, Hall of Fame portrait. Accession Number: 1978.117 (Museum Division Collection)

Garvin D. Shands, Hall of Fame portrait. Accession Number: 1978.117 (Museum Division Collection)

Garvin Dugas Shands (1844-1917) was a lawyer, Confederate veteran, and statesman. His parents were from South Carolina, but in 1868 the family moved to Mississippi where his father began a medical practice. Shands was attending Wofford College when the Civil War started and he joined the Confederate army. After the war, he moved to Panola County, and later Tate County, where he taught and read the law. He earned a law degree from the University of Kentucky in 1870 and opened a successful practice in Senatobia. He married Mary E. Roseborough and had five children. “Twin Oaks,” the home he built in Senatobia still stands today.

In 1876, he was elected to the state legislature and subsequently served for eight years as lieutenant governor during the administration of Governor Robert Lowery. He is perhaps most widely known for his tenure as professor and as the first dean of the School of Law at the University of Mississippi, serving from 1894 to 1906. He moved to New Orleans and was professor of law at Tulane University beginning in 1906. His portrait was presented to the Mississippi Hall of Fame in 1938 by his descendants.

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Hall of Fame: Medgar Evers

On September 20, 2011, in Portraits, by Amanda
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Nominations are currently being sought for the 2011 class of the Mississippi Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honors women and men who made noteworthy contributions to the state. Consideration for the Hall of Fame takes place only once every five years and any Mississippian—native or adopted—deceased at least five years may be nominated. The deadline for nominations is October 1, and elections will be held at a special meeting of the MDAH board of trustees in December. Click here for complete nomination guidelines.

This series recognizes members of the Hall of Fame, whose portraits hang in the Old Capitol Museum. Special thanks to Anna Todd, University of Southern Mississippi student and MDAH summer intern, for researching this post.

It is the responsibility of the nominating entity to fund the portraits, thus some members of the Hall of Fame, including Medgar Evers, do not have portraits.

Medgar Evers (1925-1963) was one of the most prominent and effective leaders in the civil rights movement. Born in 1925 in Decatur, Mississippi, Evers was the son of a farmer and sawmill worker. In 1943, he was inducted into the United States Army and fought in the European Theater of World War II. After being honorably discharged as a sergeant in 1945, he enrolled at Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1946. Evers majored in business administration and was involved in sports, choir, and the student government. He married his classmate Myrlie Beasley in 1951.

Evers joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1952, and two years later became the organization’s first field secretary for Mississippi. In his position, Evers recruited new members, organized local NAACP chapters, and investigated instances of racial injustice. He played a crucial role in bringing the civil rights movement in Mississippi to the nation’s attention through his work in attempting to desegregate the University of Mississippi.

During his years with the NAACP, Evers’s public support of James Meredith and Clyde Kennard and his investigation into the riots following Meredith’s admission to the University of Mississippi and the murder of Emmett Till led to numerous threats on his life. On June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers was assassinated at his home. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors on June 19, 1963, with more than 3,000 people in attendance. Today Evers is memorialized in Jackson with a statue erected in his honor, and his name has been given to a major thoroughfare in the city, as well as the state’s largest airport. He was inducted into the Mississippi Hall of Fame in 1991.

Hall of Fame: Annie Coleman Peyton

On September 15, 2011, in Artifacts, Portraits, by Amanda
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Nominations are currently being sought for the 2011 class of the Mississippi Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honors women and men who made noteworthy contributions to the state. Consideration for the Hall of Fame takes place only once every five years and any Mississippian—native or adopted—deceased at least five years may be nominated. The deadline for nominations is October 1, and elections will be held at a special meeting of the MDAH board of trustees in December. Click here for complete nomination guidelines.

This series recognizes members of the Hall of Fame, whose portraits hang in the Old Capitol Museum. Special thanks to Anna Todd, University of Southern Mississippi student and MDAH summer intern, for researching this post.

Annie Coleman Peyton, Hall of Fame portrait. Accession Number: 1978.91 (Museum Division Collection)

Annie Coleman Peyton, Hall of Fame portrait. Accession Number: 1978.91 (Museum Division Collection)

Annie Coleman Peyton (1852-1898) was a driving force in the establishment of the Mississippi Industrial Institute and College (now Mississippi University for Women), the first land-grant college for women in the country. She was born in Madison County and educated at Whitworth College in Brookhaven, where she taught for two years before marrying E. G. Peyton in 1872.

Beginning in 1879, she petitioned the state legislature to establish a state-funded school for girls at Whitworth College. However, the school would not be chartered until 1884. Columbus was selected as the location because the city offered to house the new school in the former Columbus Female Institute and promised $50,000 for improvements to the facility. Peyton, who was recently widowed, became professor of history at the school and taught there until her death in 1898. Her portrait was presented to the Mississippi Hall of Fame in 1912 by the Mississippi Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Hall of Fame: Greenwood Leflore

On September 13, 2011, in Artifacts, Portraits, by Amanda
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Nominations are currently being sought for the 2011 class of the Mississippi Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honors women and men who made noteworthy contributions to the state. Consideration for the Hall of Fame takes place only once every five years and any Mississippian—native or adopted—deceased at least five years may be nominated. The deadline for nominations is October 1, and elections will be held at a special meeting of the MDAH board of trustees in December. Click here for complete nomination guidelines.

This series recognizes members of the Hall of Fame, whose portraits hang in the Old Capitol Museum. Special thanks to Anna Todd, University of Southern Mississippi student and MDAH summer intern, for researching this post.

It is the responsibility of the nominating entity to fund the portraits, thus some members of the Hall of Fame, including Greenwood Leflore, do not have portraits.

Greenwood Leflore (1800-1865), son of a French trader and a Choctaw woman, was born in 1800. His mother was the niece of Choctaw chief Pushmataha. At age twelve, Leflore was sent to Nashville by his father to receive a formal education. Despite being generally disliked by the tribe’s full-blood men, he was elected chief of the Choctaw Nation while he was still in his twenties due to his maternal heritage. As chief, Leflore supported “civilization,” and he encouraged dramatic legal, religious, and educational reforms to the tribe. Leflore’s role in the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, which arranged for the sale of the remaining Choctaw lands in Mississippi to the United States, lost him support among the Choctaw.

Shortly after negotiating the treaty, Leflore settled in Carroll County, where he won election to the state House of Representatives and the state Senate. He was a prominent man in society, and close friend of Jefferson Davis. By the 1850s, he owned more than 15,000 acres of land and was one of the state’s wealthiest cotton planters. His mansion, Malmaison, was one of the most elaborately decorated in the state. Lefore occupied the mansion until his death in 1865, despite having lost his cotton crop, slaves, and other property during the Civil War. The city of Greenwood, Mississippi, and Leflore County are named in his honor. He was inducted into the Mississippi Hall of Fame in 1996.