My Memorial Day- Remembering Medgar Evers

Actually this is more like really learning and understanding the Medgar Evers story.

Today is Memorial Day, and like a lot of people,  I am spending this day relaxing and doing what I have not done in a while: Reading.

I have great respect for those who serve in the armed forces. They make the ultimate sacrifice, voluntarily, and I feel they should be put on the highest pedestal. I haven’t lost anyone close to me in the midst of battle, however.  So this day started for me like it will for most Americans who aren’t directly connected with the military.. a day off.

God works in mysterious ways, though.

The book that I am reading today is The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. The Help, in general is about life in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960’s. Slavery is over, but Jim Crow is in full effect. The novel tells the story of three women: two black maids and a white woman who decide to write about what it is like for black women who serve white families.

Being set in the early 1960’s, the death of Medgar Evers is an important event that has a profound effect on the characters of this novel. So, as I often do when reading about things that need more clarification, I jump on the internet to remind myself of who this wonderful person is.

This might cause you to pause. Who Medgar Evers is? *side-eye*.

Yes! Okay, I’m Black and consider myself a fairly educated individual. But you know how you take information in and you think you’ve learned about it and appreciated it..but you really didn’t? That’s me. Yes, I probably read about him in college, I saw Ghosts of Mississippi, and probably heard about all the pop culture references and indulged in righteous black anger whenever his name was mentioned. But did I really know? I’ll be brave and admit it. I probably didn’t.

In case you are like I was, Medgar Evers was an African American civil right’s activist who was instrumental in the desegregating of University of Mississippi. He was a field secretary for the NAACP, and involved in various activism efforts to abolish Jim Crow laws, like not allowing blacks to use restrooms at gas stations.  Evers was also a World War II veteran. He didn’t die in the midst of battle. He was assassinated, with a shot in the back, at age 37. His killer, a KKK member, withstood two criminal trials, but was not convicted until 30 years later, in 1994.

A lot of people died during that time, all in the name of my civil rights. The numerous stories, atrocities, violations and horrors can desensitize a person. People within my generation and younger are often accused of being jaded and not truly appreciative of the sacrifices made on our behalf. I can own that. I am a little ashamed of myself for not remembering.

He was the ultimate advocate. He not only fought for the civil rights of African Americans, but he served his country and fought for the rights of Americans and people all over the world. Only to be shown the ultimate sign of disrespect by being shot in the back in front of his family in his own front yard. He didn’t die in the middle of war, but he died in battle. He deserves to be remembered for his service and respected for it.

I hope this blog post reaches individuals like myself who tend to take the current freedoms we have for granted. If it wasn’t for people like Medgar Evers, I wouldn’t have been able to receive the education I have, and probably wouldn’t be able to leisurely read whatever I want to read on my ‘day off of work’.

If you don’t have a family member was lost in the midst of service, take the time today to learn about someone and share it with someone else. Understanding, sharing and remembering and learning is the greatest show of respect we can give.

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