I remember when Medgar Evers was murdered by a white supremacist in Jackson, Mississippi in 1963. It was one of the saddest and most shameful days of many such days for that state during that period. His was also the first of a number of political assassinations of prominent champions of civil rights that occurred in the 1960s. The killings of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert F. Kennedy were to follow and, for many, overshadowed Mr. Evers' death. That death, though, made an indelible impression on my youthful memory and I've never forgotten its impact.
It was with a certain amount of wonder and real pride that I learned recently that the U.S. Navy had chosen to honor the memory of Mr. Evers by naming one of its newest ships after him. The U.S. Navy Ship Medgar Evers was christened by his widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, in San Diego on November 12 and will begin serving as a supply ship for the Navy in early 2012. Thus the Navy honors an Army veteran who served his country in World War II and who later died in that country in the fight to secure voting rights for all Americans. At this time, when the right to vote is again under attack from well-financed sources, who, if they had their way, would probably return the country to the voting requirements that were in effect at the time of the country's founding in the eighteenth century, it is very appropriate that this honor is bestowed upon a man who gave his all to extend that right to all citizens.
It seems appropriate, too, that the present Secretary of the Navy is Ray Mabus, former governor of Mr. Evers' and my home state of Mississippi. He was present for the christening.