Medgar Evers Honored at Arlington Cemetery
Slain NAACP field secretary, civil rights leader, World War II veteran, father and husband—Medgar Wiley Evers, was honored today at Arlington National Cemetery in a wreath-laying ceremony, organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP.) Next week will be the 50th anniversary of the assassin’s bullet that killed patriot and stalwart for civil rights—Medgar Evers, a son of Mississippi. He was respectfully honored today in a beautiful and well-attended ceremony with distinguished speakers including former President Bill Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder, NAACP Mississippi State Conference President Derrick Johnson, NAACP President Ben Jealous and NAACP Chairman Emeritus Myrlie Evers-Williams. Roland Martin, of TV One and the Tom Joyner Morning Show, presided as Master of Ceremonies.
Approximately 300 attendees including organizers, military service men and women, NAACP staff and members, members of the US Congress, the Boy Scouts of America Baltimore Area Council, Troop 8548 and family and friends of the widow of Medgar Evers--Myrlie Evers-Williams. The program included an invocation from Rabbi David Saperstein, director, Religious Action Center of reformed Judaism and member, NAACP National Board of Directors. And words from Da’Quan Love, President, Virginia Youth and College division of the NAACP and Ms. Lorraine Miller, member, NAACP National Board of Directors as well as Dr. Larry West, Chairman, Board of Directors National Baptist Convention. Attendees were treated to talented performances from , violinist and ACT-SO alum John Uzodinma and a musical tribute from recording artist, VaShawn Mitchell.
NAACP President Ben Jealous said that many of the battles fought fifty years ago are still being waged today--he made this declaration for the future:
All our children deserve to grow up in a country where their voting rights are protected—all our children deserve to grow up in a country where they are respected and supported no matter what race or color they may be. All our children deserve up to grow up in a country whose soul is healed from the scars and violence of racism and racial oppression in our country.
Former President Bill Clinton, led Myrlie Evers-Williams to the stage at the Old Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington and gave short speech before introducing the Chairman Emeritus to the stage.
President Clinton harkened back about the reign of assassinations and riots that occurred in the 1960s and made this apropos analogy:
The next time you hear people complaining around Washington about what a rough business democracy is, you might do well to remind them what it was like fifty years ago and the sacrifices that were made.
President Clinton went on to say:
We must avoid the temptation to confuse memory with meaning—there was meaning in Medgar Evers life.
The Honorable Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States said:
Today’s ceremony presents an important opportunity to recommit ourselves and to recommit our great nation to the principals he lived and died to defend. It provides a chance to ensure that his contributions and his remarkable leadership are remembered for generations to come. And it calls each of us to lift up the legacy of a man who stood at the forefront of the American Civil Rights Movement.
After the 1963 assassination of her husband, Mrs. Myrlie Evers-Williams went on to raise her family and continue the legacy of Medgar. She continues the work today with the Myrlie and Medgar Evers Institute.
Mrs. Myrlie Evers-Williams, Chairman Emeritus National Board of Directors, NAACP said:
Medgar was a man who never wanted adoration—who never wanted to be in the limelight. He was a man who saw a job that needed to be done and he answered the call. In the fight for freedom, dignity and justice not just for his people but all people--I would say to him: How can you say you love the state of your birth and he said because I do and because I do I will work as hard as I can to make positive change.
The ceremony concluded with the presentation of flags—the American and NAACP flag and finally the laying of a wreath in honor of Medgar Wiley Evers.
May his fight to register voters continue—and his resolve to advocate for the civil rights of all Americans continue to live in the hearts and minds of new and old NAACP members and organizers alike.