JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Medgar Evers home was rededicated Monday as a small museum that helps preserve the memory of the Mississippi civil rights leader who was assassinated 50 years ago.
The mint-green, ranch style house in north Jackson has undergone extensive preservation work. It is owned by Tougaloo College, and is available for tours by appointment.
"We're here to not only reflect on his life and legacy and remember, but to recommit ourselves to the ideals that he lived for, he worked for and also that he gave his life (for), so that all of us could be here today living in a more humane and just society," said Tougaloo President Beverly Wade Hogan.
More than 100 people turned out for the ceremony that included a speech by Evers' daughter.
"When I'm here, I have the spirit of Dad protecting us," said Reena Evers-Everette, who was 8 years old when her father was gunned down in the carport just after midnight on June 12, 1963.
Evers was the first Mississippi field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and he had stayed out late on June 11 to attend a community meeting. His wife and their three young children were still awake when he pulled into the driveway.
Evers-Everette said she will never forget seeing her father's blood as he lay dying.
"He could not get up as many times as my brothers and I said, 'Daddy, Daddy, get up,'" she recalled.
Byron De La Beckwith, a white segregationist, was tried twice on murder charges in 1964, but all-white juries deadlocked without either convicting or acquitting him. After a renewed investigation, Beckwith was tried and found guilty of murder in 1994. He died in prison in 2001.
The Rev. Larry L. Johnson, the Tougaloo College chaplain, said the ceremony Monday was more than the rededication of a home.
"It is a time for us to rededicate ourselves to the cause of freedom and justice for all people because we know all people are part of the family of God," Johnson said.
The ceremony was one of several events being held in Mississippi this week to commemorate Evers' life and legacy. Tours of Jackson civil-rights sites were being offered Monday and Tuesday, and several civil rights movies were being shown both days at the planetarium in downtown Jackson.
A black-tie gala is set for Wednesday evening at the Jackson Convention Complex. A statue of Evers is being unveiled Thursday at his alma mater, Alcorn State University in Lorman.