In what has been long overdue, the three-bedroom Mississippi home of civil rights activist Medgar Evers and his wife Myrlie Evers has become a national monument after President Trump signed a bipartisan public lands bill into law on Tuesday.
The home, which has been managed by the Tougaloo College since 1993 after the Evers family donated it to them will be taken over by the federal government, reports The Clarion Ledger. Featuring a bullet hole in the kitchen as well as old family furniture and information about the family, the Evers home was named a national historic landmark in 2016 by the National Park Service.
Medgar Evers, an iconic civil rights leader and the first state field secretary of the NAACP in Mississippi was assassinated outside the house on June 12, 1963, by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of supremacist group the White Citizens’ Council.
His wife, Myrlie Evers, who is also a staunch civil rights activist also served as the national chairwoman of the NAACP between 1993 and 1998.
Prior to the bill being enacted into law, Minnie White Watson, who met Medgar when she was a young college student and has been the curator of the Medgar Evers House Museum since 1997 in an interview with Peter O’Dowd of WBUR’s Here Now shared her approval of the move.
“[The National Park Service] can afford to do things that possibly we could never afford to do,” such as putting in a parking lot and bathrooms,” she said.
More about Medgar Evers:
Born on July 2, 1925, in Decatur, Mississippi, Evers served in the United States Army and was also a World War II veteran.
He is famously known for challenging and playing an instrumental role in helping overturn a segregation law at the University of Mississippi that allowed the admission of only white students.
Even though a 1954 United States Supreme Court ruling (Brown v. Board of Education) declared segregation of public schools unconstitutional, the University of Mississippi still denied Evers admission after applying to read law.
The rejection spurred him to fight for the university to be desegregated consequently helping popular civil rights activist James Meredith gain admission to the university in 1962. This made him the first African-American to be admitted to the University of Mississippi.
Evers’ role in overturning the segregation law at the University of Mississippi garnered him nationwide attention and also made him very unpopular and targeted by the White Citizens’ Council, a supremacist group that was established to challenge and resist the desegregation of public schools.
Evers, before his assassination also publicly condemned the lynching of Emmett Till and launched his own investigations.
Due to constant death threats hurled at Evers and his family by white supremacists and KKK members, Evers at a certain point in time was guarded and escorted by the FBI and police. On June 12, 1963, Evers was shot and killed in front of his home by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens’ Council. Unusually on that day, Evers was not escorted home.
De La Beckwith was not sentenced for the gruesome murder thanks to a hanging all-white jury in the first two trials. However, in 1994, the case was reopened and he was tried based on new evidence. He was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.