Have you flown into Mississippi’s capital city recently? If so, you would have entered the recently named Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport. Finally, people are hearing the name of Medgar Evers, a champion for voting and human rights in Mississippi.
But it is just a first step. At best, most people know that Evers worked with the NAACP and was murdered in his driveway.
Middle school teacher Anthony Golding wanted to be sure his students recognized more than Evers’ name, digging deeper into his life and legacy.
Golding used the lesson Meet Medgar Evers: Introduction to the Southern Freedom Movement with his class of 8th grade students at Tupelo Middle School. Golding was introduced to this lesson as part of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement and Labor History Teaching Fellowship. He is one of sixteen teacher fellows in the 2014-2015 cohort.
Each student received a short bio of a person or institution that played an instrumental role in the southern freedom movement, connected to the life of Medgar Evers. These included Evers’ parents, high school activists Joyce and Dorie Ladner, the Sovereignty Commission, and many more.
The activity gave students a deeper understanding of the voting rights struggle in the late 50’s and early 60’s in Mississippi. Here’s what they said about what they learned and about the lesson:
I learned more by doing the activity because before I thought he was just a man that was murdered…now I see that he really helped people and was a great influence. – Makhia
The lesson was interesting as you get a closer look at Medgar Evers’ life. It gave a better insight than the book.– Alison
I will remember more about Medgar Evers because we acted out the lesson. – Quadarius
The lesson was a fun way of learning. Can we do this more often? – Robbie
The students really enjoyed being able to talk about the life of Medgar Evers rather than just listen. Many of my students requested that we do an activity like this in the future.