My beloved navy is naming a supply ship after a slain civil rights leader. This civil rights leader, Medgar Evers (1925-1963) was also one of the 1.2 million African Americans who served during World War II. I stand on his shoulders. His stint in the army made a difference for my generation. And now a navy supply ship will bear his name.Navy Names Ship After Civil Rights Activist Medgar Evers
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During the course of my research for my book I learned that many historians attribute the success of the civil rights movement to the African American men and women such as Edgars who returned home after serving during World War II and invigorated the civil rights movement. These black veterans had risked their lives for their country and thus believed they had earned the right to equal treatment and full citizenship.
Army veteran Medgar Edgars, who fought in both France and Germany during World War II before receiving an honorable discharge in 1946, was among that group. When he came home he did what many newly discharged veterans did – he went to college, met the girl of his dreams, got married and tried to achieve the American dream. However, Evers faced unbelievable odds toward achieving that dream – racism and discrimination. Evers began working in 1952 for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Evers organized nonviolent protests, voter registration drives and boycotts in his home state.
Sadly, on June 12, 1963, the 37-year-old Mississippi native was assassinated in the driveway of his home. The war veteran was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. His death prompted President John F. Kennedy to ask the Congress for a comprehensive civil rights bill. Since his death there have been many honors to this invisible warrior including naming a college after him and now a ship.
My generation stands on the shoulders of men like Medgar Evers and we owe them a debt of gratitude that perhaps we can never repay. Naming a ship for one of those invisible warriors is the least that we can do. I am so pleased to see that Evers is receiving this honor. It will be two years before USNS Medgar Evers is ready to sail but when she does sets sail the men and women who sail on that ship will be sailing on a ship named for an American hero.
Copyright © Sharon D. Powell, 2009 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED