Medgar Evers receives posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom

Published 3:25 pm Friday, May 3, 2024

Medgar Wiley Evers will be posthumously receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Evers, a World War II veteran and civil rights leader was assassinated on June 12, 1963, in the driveway of his home in Jackson.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest U.S. civilian honor awarded to individuals 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.” Awardees are selected by the president.

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President Harry S. Truman selected the first Medal of Freedom recipient in 1946.

After returning home from World War II, Evers held several leadership roles in civil rights groups. He recruited volunteers, led demonstrations, and organized voter registration drives.

In recognition of his role in the Civil Rights Movement, he 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.

The Mississippi Delegation has expressed its support for this award to President Biden.

“This is a powerful way to honor Medgar Evers’ life and legacy. The fact that he is receiving this award sixty years after his death is proof that he has inspired the generations that followed. His work did not die with him in 1963. I am grateful to the president for selecting this native son of our state for this well-deserved distinction,” said U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

“Medgar Evers, who is already remembered for his pursuit of equality and justice as part of the civil rights movement, now joins a most distinguished group of Americans who are forever singled out for their life’s work. I applaud the award of this Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I hope will renew our commitment to strive for the values for which Medgar Evers gave his life,” said U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss.

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., whose Second District includes Natchez, praised the recognition. “The Presidential Medal of Freedom is a testament to Medgar Evers’ enduring impact on not only Mississippi but also the nation. Over 60 years after his death, his tireless pursuit of equality for African Americans in our state continues to resonate throughout generations. As someone deeply influenced by his legacy, I am honored to witness this recognition. I extend my gratitude to President Biden for acknowledging Medgar Evers’ pivotal role in our history and bestowing upon him this well-deserved honor.”

“Medgar Evers has earned and deserves to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His devotion to civil rights will always be remembered,”U.S. Representative Trent Kelly said.

 “The life of Medgar Wiley Evers was one of determination and conviction. With his service on the battlefield of World War II and his work in the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi, Evers showed his fellow Mississippians the power of serving others. His life was tragically cut short with his assassination in 1963, but he is still remembered today for the contributions he made to the Civil Rights movement. I’m thankful to see Evers selected to receive the Presidential Medal of Honor posthumously,”U.S. Representative Michael Guest said.

 “Medgar Evers’ work to secure equal rights has made a lasting impact on not just our state, but our entire nation. I was glad to join the full delegation in calling for him to posthumously receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and I am proud to see him receive this recognition for his legacy and his work,” U.S. Representative Mike Ezell said.

Mississippi natives who have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom include: civil rights activist James Earl Chaney (2014); Representative G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery (2005); Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise (1970); historian Dumas Malone (1983); musical artists Leontyne Price (1964) and B.B. King (2006); writers Eudora Welty (1980) and Tennessee Williams (1980); and media mogul Oprah Winfrey (2013).