WASHINGTON – The Mississippi congressional delegation today requested that President Obama posthumously award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Medgar Wiley Evers, the distinguished civil rights leader who was assassinated more than 50 years ago.
U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Representatives Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., Gregg Harper, R-Miss., Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., and Trent Kelly, R-Miss., issued the request in a letter to the President.
“Mr. Evers dedicated his life to the defense of civil rights in Mississippi and the United States… His leadership, dedication and sacrifice continue to inspire many Americans and have enhanced freedom for all of humankind,” the Mississippi lawmakers wrote.
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. President Harry S. Truman selected the first Medal of Freedom recipient in 1946.
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).
The text of the delegation letter is available below and here http://bit.ly/2ewsY9i.
Dear Mr. President,
We are honored to encourage you to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to heroic civil rights leader Medgar Wiley Evers.
Medgar Evers served our nation as a member of the U.S. Army during World War II and then as a leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Mississippi. As the first Field Secretary in Mississippi for the NAACP, Mr. Evers recruited volunteers, led demonstrations and organized voter-registration efforts in an effort to end racial discrimination in our society. Mr. Evers was tragically assassinated in front of his home in Jackson, Mississippi, on June 12, 1963 as a result of his work to promote social justice, racial equality, and voting rights.
Mr. Evers dedicated his life to the defense of civil rights in Mississippi and the United States. In recognition of his role in the Civil Rights Movement, he was posthumously awarded the NAACP Spingarn Medal for outstanding achievement in 1963 and is featured in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. His leadership, dedication and sacrifice continue to inspire many Americans and have enhanced freedom for all of humankind.
We would appreciate your personal attention to this request. If we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.