Alcorn State, Miss (November 30, 2012) - On November 27, Alcorn State University students, faculty and staff witnessed living history when Myrlie Evers, the legendary champion for civil rights and the wife of civil rights martyr Medgar Wiley Evers '52, and The Clarion Ledger investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell shared their unique story of struggling together and winning the battle for social justice.
Myrlie Evers shared with the Alcorn family the story of Medgar Evers’ assassination and the following 31 years of struggle that she and Mitchell endured to bring the assassin who took Evers’ life to justice.
“If not for the tenacity and courage of legendary Mrs. Evers and the investigative work of Mr. Mitchell, justice would never have been served,” said Dr. Derek Greenfield, director of the Office of Educational Equity and Inclusion.
“The night before Medgar was killed, I made a promise that if anything happened to him and I survived, I would be sure that justice prevailed,” emotionally shared Myrlie Evers. “None of it would have been possible without Jerry’s strength, wisdom and drive that helped us see that justice was served.”
“When I heard the news that my classmate, Medgar Evers, was killed, I felt like I had died too,” said Dr. Alpha Morris ’52, chair, Department of Social Sciences at Alcorn.
Addie Davis, academic advisor at Alcorn, stated, “Back then, even the thought of a trial for Evers’ assassin seemed out of reach. But despite the obstacles and threats, Mrs. Evers’ and Mr. Mitchell’s determination to continue the struggle for social justice, the assassin was finally convicted.”
Jerry Mitchell remembered what happened when the judge pronounced the verdict “guilty” during the third and final trial, “A wave of joy went down the hall and people erupted in cheers. I felt chills because I realized that there were hundreds of such cases, and maybe, we witnessed a miracle. To date, there have been 24 convictions that began with that case.”
Mrs. Evers added, “For all of those who died in the hands of racists, the verdict meant victory for all of us. The example that Jerry has set sends a strong message to you - young people. He showed that if you strongly believe in something, you can put your fears aside and fight for it.”
“Their victory served as a symbol of change,” stated Otis Johnson, a junior majoring in criminal justice. “Without people like Myrlie Evers and Jerry Mitchell the state of Mississippi and our country would not be what it is today.”
Dr. Mildred Holland, adjunct professor in the Department of Education and Psychology, brought her students to the lecture. She said, “We are truly blessed to have Mrs. Evers and Mr. Mitchell talk to our faculty, staff and especially students. Before that we could only read about them and now the students can ‘touch’ the history and relive it with Mrs. Evers and Mr. Mitchell.”
Mr. Mitchell added, “It was so important for Myrlie and me to come here today because we wanted young people to hear firsthand about our struggle, and make them realize that this is not ancient history. It is easy to think that the Civil Rights Movement took care of everything and the work is all done. It is not true as injustices in our society still exist and the youth need to continue what we’ve started. ”
At the conclusion of the discussion, Myrlie Evers thanked Alcorn State University and its President M. Christopher Brown II for inviting her as Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence. “Alcorn – I am home.”
Mrs. Evers’ and Mr. Mitchell’s candid conversations were held as the “From ‘Just Us’ to Justice” installment of the Arts and Lecture Series sponsored by the Office of Educational Equity and Inclusion.
Alcorn State University is a premier comprehensive land-grant university that develops diverse students into globally-competitive leaders, and applies scientific research through collaborative partnerships which benefit the surrounding communities, state, nation and world.
Pictured: Myrlie Evers and Jerry Mitchell with Alcornites after the lecture.