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Evers' Legacy Honored with USNS Medgar Evers Christening

Nnpa | 11/17/2011, 2:48 p.m.

After recently relishing in an amazing evening with Mrs. Myrlie Evers-Williams, the NAACP, BCA and other local black organizations rallied hundreds San Diegans together to celebrate the christening of the USNS Medgar Evers T-AKE 13. This momentous event took place on Sat., Nov. 12 at General Dynamics NASCO, in San Diego, with many distinguished guests in attendance.

Mrs. Evers-Williams, widow of the civil rights activist, Megar Evers and their daughter Ms. Reena Evers-Everette were featured as sponsors of the historic event as well as many family members and friends who traveled from Mississippi to be in attendance. Though many expressed that Mr. Evers never wished for fame or notoriety, he is more than deserving of this honor.

Born on July 2, 1925, Medgar Evers hailed from Decatur, Mississippi. He served his country proudly, enlisting in the United States Army in 1943. "Raised to understand the importance of self-reliance, self-respect and dignity, Medgar Evers was an honorable and dedicated man," remarked Rear Admiral Mark H. Buzby.

After his military service, Mr. Evers graduated from Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University) with a degree in business. Following the Supreme Court decision of Brown v Board of Education, which ended segregation in schools, Mr. Evers applied to the University of Mississippi's Law School in an attempt to become the first Black student admitted, but was denied admittance because of his race.

After opening the first NAACP field office with his wife, in Mississippi, Mr. Evers worked diligently towards freedom and equal rights for African Americans, seeking justice in many cases including the brutal murder of an African American youth, Emmett Till. Arriving home on the night of June 12 night from an NAACP meeting, Mr. Evers was fatally shot. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

Many speakers highlighted the correlation between the ship and Mr. Evers' life. "Each ship in the T-AKE Class is named for a noted pioneer in our nation's history. Mr. Evers was an army veteran of World War II and an important civil rights pioneer. The NASSCO team is proud to add Medgar Evers' name to this distinguished list," said President of NASSCO, Fred Harris.

"This type of ship is the glue that holds our Navy together," emphasized United States Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus. Secretary Mabus and Mrs. Evers-Williams have a long relationship as referenced by Evers-Williams. "Ray and I worked together when he was the governor of Mississippi." Secretary Mabus spoke thoughtfully of his admiration for Mr. Evers, "This is a way we get to pay tribute to someone who has come to symbolize something special that we stand for. He knew that the Declaration of Independence had not been redeemed." Secretary Mabus thanked all Mississippians for their courageous fight for freedom. "Thank you, Medgar Evers," he concluded.

When the time came for Evers-Williams to speak, she graced the podium to a standing ovation. "This is a moment that will go down in the history books," she began. Evers-Williams spoke passionately about her late husband's life, "He believed in America. Youth should be inspired by his fight."

The morning concluded with Evers-Williams ceremoniously breaking a champagne bottle against the hull of the ship. The crowd cheered in realization of the fact that the USNS Medgar Evers T-AKE 13 will embark on missions, traveling around the world displaying Medgar Evers' lasting legacy.