When Dr. Michael Vinson Williams discusses his most recent book, "Medgar Evers: Mississippi Martyr," (2011, University of Arkansas Press, $34.95) one can only wonder where he obtained the passion to write such an in-depth biography of one of Jackson's most important visionaries. It came from his mother.
"My mother always talked about Medgar Evers. She felt that he was never given the credit that he was due," Williams said.
After grade school, Williams saw a lot more of his mother when she decided to home school him along with his six sisters and three brothers. Williams also had a sister who died as an infant.
"My mother felt as if she could do just as good of a job with us," Williams said.
As a graduate student, the thought of his mother's rants about the late Medgar Evers caught up with him and formed the basis of his thesis. The plight of Medgar Evers also proved useful for the dissertation he wrote in pursing his doctorate, "The Biographical Assessment of Medgar Wiley Evers and the Meaning of Civil Rights Struggle in Mississippi, 1952-1963."
Hailing from Etta, Miss., Williams, 41, attended the University of Mississippi for his undergraduate degree in sociology and undergraduate, masters and doctorate in history, which he received in 2007.
Williams has taught at the University of Mississippi, Rust College and Mississippi State University, where he is a professor of History and African American Studies.
Earlier this month, the JSU Reading Community featured Williams' book in a week-long program celebrating black history. Williams, along with Dr. Rico Chapman and Precious Vines, hosted a panel discussion and a discussion on his book. This event was the first of a three-day event the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy hosted at JSU in conjunction with the COFO Civil Rights Education Center and the Margaret Walker Center.
Contact the Hamer Institute at 601-979-1562 for more information on Medgar Evers and the struggle for civil rights in Mississippi.