Visiting Jackson, MS for the Opening of the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument (MEMY) !

“We want conditions improved for everybody. We feel that in this country that all persons should have an opportunity to register and vote and do the things that the Constitution guarantees them.”

– Medgar Evers, 1962 

Realted sites of importance to the MEdgar EVers story....

Before I headed to the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument, I stopped at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the M.W. Stringer Grand Lodge to learn more about Medgar Evers’ legacy in the Mississippi Civil Rights movement. Evers was Mississippi’s first NAACP Field Secretary and he played a critical role in establishing new NAACP chapters, voter registration drives, and protesting Jim Crow laws. His NAACP Field Secretary office space is located on the second floor of the building.

In addition, as a museum enthusiast, I deeply appreciated the opportunity to visit the Two Mississippi Museums campus to learn about vast history and impact of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. I have lived in the Greater Atlanta Metro area for all my life and was taught about the civil rights movement in school at different times growing up but it was not until I was in Jackson, that I realized my knowledge is very much Atlanta centered. I left Jackson, MS with a greater understanding of Mississippi’s  struggle, tenacity and contributions to the greater Civil Rights Movement.

At first glance...

A photo of Medgar and Myrlie Evers' Home. It is located in a suburban neighborhood in Jackson, Mississippi.
A close up picture of the plaque located on the front side of the house.

planning tent located in Myrlie's Garden to collect Public Comment

This is where I spent most of my time engaging with visitors and asking them about their thought and ideas about possible future development concepts for the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument alongside my supervisor.

MOre photos from the opening Ceremony and 60th Rememberance events

A snapshot of Myrlie's Garden area with raised plant beds and native flowers.
Interpretation waysides in Myrlie's Garden for visitors to learn more about the story of Medgar and Myrlie Evers.
Music provided by New Orleans Jazz Historical National Park.
A selfie of MEMY Superintendent Keena Graham and I. She is amazing! There were many superintendents from other parks in the Southeastern Region who came out to support Keena.

Now for my blog...

           My trip to Jackson, MS was quite a special moment that I will remember forever. My first visit to a National Park site also happened to coincide with the grand opening of the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument (MEMY). I was in Jackson between June 7th and June 9th. Most of my time was spent in Myrlie’s Garden at the Planning tent engaging with visitors and event attendees. Thursday, June 8th, was my busiest day in terms of the grand opening and major foot traffic in and around Myrlie’s Garden.

            At the Planning tent, my supervisor and I set up the easels and poster boards displaying potential development concepts for MEMY. Essentially, MEMY is a brand new and very young park site, and the importance of Park Planning factors in at every stage, especially now, to guide decisions related to park operations and facilities development for the future. At the table, we laid out newsletters, public comment cards, and brochures for event attendees and visitors. A crucial part of Park Planning is civic engagement and my supervisor and I were collecting comments from the public that visited the site throughout the weekend remembrance events. We asked visitors what they would like to see come to fruition in the long term for operations and management. I listened attentively to the visitors we spoke to and followed up with more questions and took diligent notes about their ideas. Since the field visit, I have created a public comment summary report that categorizes the ideas we received by development concepts and general themes to guide the evolving planning efforts. It was moving to see and speak to visitors, local residents and other stakeholders who share a common interest in preserving and telling the story of Medgar Evers. 

         This was an amazing opportunity to see the power of partnerships and how they can promote the mission of the National Park Service. The home of Medgar and Myrlie Evers links their work and legacy to a place where visitors can engage and reflect on the Mississippi Civil Right’s movement and its tie to the ongoing struggle for social justice in the United States today.  Seeing firsthand the commitment of the National Park Service and other partners to tell the story of Medgar and Myrlie Evers and make it accessible to all audiences was inspiring and insightful. Before I left on Friday, I visited the interpretation tent where they had the Jr. Ranger program and I was able to earn my first badge. You are never too old to earn one! I did not grow up visiting National Parks, so it was a special moment for me to participate in. I treasure and collect tangible things like pins and patches from my experiences. 

Thank you for reading, 

Julia Martinez 

I leave you with this last quote ...

“It took me years to learn what Medgar felt instinctively: that freedom has to be won, that it is worth fighting for. It was the lesson of his life. It was the lesson, if there was one, in his death.” – Myrlie Evers in For Us, the Living 

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