Teaching Students About Medgar Evers
Medgar Evers was a prominent civil rights activist in the United States in the mid-20th century. His relentless fight against racial inequalities and injustices, coupled with his tragic death, made him one of the most recognized figures of the American Civil Rights Movement. Educators around the country can greatly benefit by incorporating lessons on Medgar Evers into their curriculum, as it will not only help students understand an essential chapter of American history but also inspire them to value social equity, justice, and activism in their lives.
The Early Life of Medgar Evers
Born on July 2, 1925, in Decatur, Mississippi, Medgar Wiley Evers grew up in a highly racially segregated society. Educators can start by narrating his early life before moving on to his adult years. Discussing his experiences growing up in rural Mississippi can help students understand the importance of family values and how they shaped Evers’ determination to fight for change.
Medgar Evers’ Education and Military Service
After graduating high school, Medgar Evers served in World War II as part of the all-black 325th Port Company. Following his military service, he enrolled at Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University) in Mississippi. It’s important for students to understand how Evers’ education and exposure to a racially divided world during World War II contributed to his passionate advocacy for civil rights.
Medgar Evers’ Work with NAACP
In 1954, after leaving college with a degree in business administration, Medgar Evers became involved with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). As Mississippi’s first NAACP field secretary, he fought against segregation and worked tirelessly to improve educational opportunities for African Americans. Educators should emphasize key aspects of Evers’ work with the NAACP, such as organizing boycotts, registering African Americans to vote, and investigating racially motivated violence.
Assassination and Legacy
On June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers was assassinated while returning to his Mississippi home. His death triggered a wave of grief and anger throughout the country, intensifying the Civil Rights Movement. Educators should address both the profound impact that his assassination had on America at the time, and celebrate his life by discussing the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement following his murder. It is essential to help students understand how Medgar Evers’ sacrifice for justice remains relevant today in the ongoing fight against racial inequality.
Teaching Strategies and Resources
When teaching about Medgar Evers, educators can incorporate various resources and strategies to engage their students:
1. Show documentaries or film adaptations of Medgar Evers’ life to bring history to life.
2. Discuss primary sources such as newspaper articles, photographs, and court documents related to Evers’ work as an activist.
3. Incorporate related literature that speaks about the wider Civil Rights Movement or those inspired by Medgar Evers.
4. Invite guest speakers who experienced or studied the Civil Rights Movement to share their knowledge and personal stories with students.
5. Encourage open discussions and debates on current social issues to establish connections between historical events and today’s world.