As Commencement season draws closer, Medgar Evers College is proud to announce that the institution’s namesake, Medgar Wiley Evers, will be awarded a posthumous Doctorate of Humane Letters at the College’s 44th Commencement ceremony. The event will be held at 10:00am, Tuesday, June 2nd at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Evers’s wife, Dr. Myrlie Evers-Williams will accept the prestigious award on behalf of her late husband. The City University of New York (CUNY) unanimously approved the prestigious honor for the slain civil rights leader earlier this year.
The award comes as the nation continues to commemorate the anniversaries of a number of key Civil Rights milestones. This March marked the 50th anniversary of Selma’s “Bloody Sunday”, last year marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and in 2013, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington. This year will mark 52 years since Medgar Wiley Evers was assassinated. He was 38 years old.
“There is much that we celebrate about Medgar Wiley Evers — his unwavering commitment to ensuring the right to vote for countless individuals, the opening of opportunities for the education of black children and adults, and the enormous employment opportunities that resulted from his activism with the NAACP in Mississippi. I’m so proud to be at the helm of this institution as we’re able to honor him in this way,” stated Dr. Rudolph F. Crew, president of Medgar Evers College.
About Medgar Wiley Evers
Medgar Wiley Evers, known as “The Man in Mississippi,” is a seminal figure in the history of the American Civil Rights Movement. The third of four children, Medgar was born on July 2, 1925 in Decatur, Mississippi to James and Jessie Evers. He grew up in a devoutly religious home in segregated Mississippi, where services and accommodations such as schools and public facilities were specified for “Colored” or “White” use. Despite the fact that he could not attend the same theaters or drink from the same fountains as white Mississippians, like many men of his generation, Evers left his home to enlist in the military following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Although he was serving his country against its foreign enemies, Evers soon became disillusioned by the fact that while he was supposedly fighting for freedom of people halfway around the world, his own nation was rooted in the unequal segregationist ideology of separation and white supremacy. Evers’ experiences of the racist sentiments of white citizens as an African-American soldier demonstrated to him the need for action.
Emboldened by lessons learned while at war, Evers returned to Mississippi and dedicated himself to academic studies at Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in 1952. Evers was acutely aware of the need to continue the struggle against injustice and soon became an important member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Jackson, Mississippi. From 1954 until his assassination in 1963, Evers traveled throughout Mississippi organizing African-Americans in peaceful protest, economic boycotts, political sit-ins, and voter registration drives to draw national and world attention to unjust practices.
However, on June 12, 1963, “The Man in Mississippi,” who was the voice of so many disenfranchised Americans, was silenced by a shot to the back in the driveway of his home. Following Evers’ assassination, his wife Myrlie continued his legacy by traveling around the world stressing the positive achievements of the Civil Rights Movement and the necessity to continue the struggle until the dream of equality is realized. Myrlie Evers-Williams has remained a stalwart figure in the struggle for Civil Rights up to the present, serving as the Chairperson of the NAACP’s Board of Directors from 1995 to 1998.
About Myrlie Evers-Williams
Myrlie Evers-Williams is an activist and author. Her repertoire of publications includes For Us, The Living and Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be. She served as chair of the NAACP from 1995-1998.
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About Medgar Evers College
Located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Medgar Evers College is a growing institution offering both Associate and Baccalaureate degrees. The nearly 7,000-member student body is primarily comprised of those who are the first in their families to attend college. A senior college within The City University of New York (CUNY) system, Medgar Evers College was established in 1970 with a mandate to meet the educational and social needs of the Central Brooklyn community. With a commitment to students who desire a sound academic foundation as well as an opportunity for personal development, Medgar Evers College seeks to provide high-quality, professional, career-oriented undergraduate degree programs in the context of a liberal arts education. For more information, visit www.mec.cuny.edu.