By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter –
OKLAHOMA CITY – U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt has recently announced that the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home in Jackson, Mississippi has been named the newest national monument in the National Park System.
In the 1950s and 60s, Medgar Evers, a World War II veteran, was a field secretary for the NAACP. Together Medgar and his wife Myrlie fought for the desegregation of the University of Mississippi, for voting rights, and the desegregation of public facilities.
“It is an honor to establish the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument,” said Secretary Bernhardt.“Medgar Evers was a true American hero who fought the Nazis at Normandy and fought racism with his wife Myrlie on the home front.
“It is our solemn responsibility as caretakers of America’s national treasures to tell the whole story of America’s heritage for the benefit of present and future generations,” Bernhardt said.
“The life works of these great Americans helped shape our nation in making the United States a more perfect union, and for that, we should all be grateful.”
Evers managed much of his activism out of his home as he and his family lived with constant threats and harassment.
Medgar was gunned down in the driveway of his home by a white supremacist on June 12, 1963, less than 24 hours after President John F. Kennedy made his famous address to the nation on the issue of civil rights and proposed legislation that would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“We at the National Trust applaud the administration for its designation of the historic Medgar and Myrlie Evers home,” said Brent Leggs, executive director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.
“With this inclusion in our national parks system, more Americans will learn about the remarkable activism and often overlooked contributions of this great American family,” Leggs said. “Their civil rights leadership must be told and interpreted for present and future generations.”
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a privately funded nonprofit organization, that works to save America’s historic places.
Prior to becoming a National Park, the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2017. The home was acquired by the National Park Service by way of conveyance from Tougaloo College in June of this year.
“We are so pleased that the National Park Service has made our family home in Jackson, MS, a National Monument,” said Reena and James Van Evers, the two surviving children of Medgar and Myrlie Evers. “Our parents sought justice and equality for all Mississippians and knew such change locally would impact globally. Living a life of service, our parents didn’t make sacrifices for accolades or awards.
“Our father fought for his country during World War II, and our mother equally served on the battlefields here in America. The battle continues to ensure that all Americans deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
“We are delighted that our house, always enclosed in love and respect, is nestled in a community that provides hope and opportunity,” Reena and James stated. “ It’s still serving as a reminder of our divided past and an educational tool to bring knowledge, excellence, and positive participation to all who visit to study icons in American history: our parents, Medgar and Myrlie Evers.”
The three-bedroom, ranch-style house was built in 1956 as part of Jackson’s Elraine Subdivision, developed by African American entrepreneurs Winston J. Thompson and Leroy Burnett.
Elraine Subdivision was the first post-World War II modern subdivision designed for middle-class African Americans in Mississippi.
“In preserving the Medgar and Myrlie Evers home, our nation rightly acknowledges the gross inequities faced by the Evers’ family as well as their legacy of struggle to create a more free and fair United States for all,” Leggs added.
For more information regarding the National Trust for Historic Preservation, visit savingplaces.org.
This story first appeared online on Jan. 15, 2021.