SuperTalk Mississippi News

Mississippi delegation calls for Medgar Evers to be awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

By Alyssa Arbuckle

The entire Mississippi delegation is urging President Joe Biden to posthumously award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, along with Representatives Bennie Thompson, Trent Kelly, Michael Guest, and Mike Ezell joined to send a letter to the president requesting that the Mississippi native be considered for the award.

Evers was born in Decatur in 1925, where he attended segregated schools throughout his childhood before earning a high school diploma.

Following graduation, Evers served as a participator in the Normandy landings as a member of the U.S. Army during World War II. He was honorably discharged as a sergeant at the end of the war in 1945.

Three years later, Evers enrolled at Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College before taking up leadership roles in civil rights groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

In 1954, Evers became the NAACP’s first field secretary for Mississippi before leading efforts in recruiting volunteers, conducting demonstrations, and organizing voter registration drives to end racial discrimination and promote equal rights.

Evers was assassinated in the driveway of his Jackson residence by Byron De La Beckwith — a convicted murderer and Ku Klux Klan member from Greenwood — on June 12, 1963.

In recognition of his role in the Civil Rights Movement, Evers was posthumously awarded the NAACP Spingarn Medal for outstanding achievement, and he is featured in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Now, Mississippi legislators are calling for President Biden to grant Evers the highest U.S. civilian honor, which is given to those who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

“Mr. Evers dedicated his life to the defense of civil rights in Mississippi and the United States,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “His sacrifice inspires Americans to this day, and he furthered the cause of freedom for all humankind.”

Mississippi natives who have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom currently include the following:
•  Leontyne Price (1964)
•  Fred Haise (1970)
•  Tennessee Williams (1980)
•  Eudora Welty (1980)
•  Dumas Malone (1983)
•  Representative G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery (2005)
•  B.B. King (2006)
•  Oprah Winfrey (2013)
•  James Earl Chaney (2014)