“Yes, I have. I've suffered some personal difficulties. Number one, I'm a native of the state, lived here all my life, but in 1958, as I came from a regional meeting in North Carolina, I boarded the bus in Meridian, Miss., on the front seat where I sat and was told to move by the police. I, of course, refused. I refused to move to the back of the bus after being ordered to do so by the driver. And after I refused, of course-of course he got off the bus and went and called the police in Meridian and they conferred. And after having conferred with one another, two came on the bus and asked to see my identification. I showed them my identification. And after having done that, they asked me to get off the bus and come over to the police station with them-which was across the street. I went over there with them and they asked me what I was trying to do-stir up trouble? I told them, no, I was merely going home to my wife and children. Of course I had two children at the time. And they said, well, you know how things are done here. I said, yes, I was born 30 miles from here, which was Decatur, Miss. And after some 15 or 20 minutes of interrogation they permitted me to go back on the bus. I went and got back in the bus and, of course, I sat back on the front seat. And having refused to move again, the bus driver pulled off. I heard as we moved away-a number of people say that, “We should go on and pull him off.” Of course I sat there and some three blocks from the bus terminal a white man boarded the bus and struck me in the face. This was about 3 o'clock in the morning. I was alone. Of course I refused to move and I came all the way to Jackson without any further incidents. That along with many others-I've had a number of threatening called-people calling me saying they were going to kill me, saying they were going to blow my home up and saying that I only had a few hours to live. I remember distinctly one individual calling me with a pistol on the other end, and he hit the cylinder and of course you could hear that it was a revolver. He said,”This is for you.” And I said, “Well, whenever my time comes, I'm ready.” And, well, we get such pranks pretty frequently. But that does not deter us from our goal of first-class citizenship and getting more people registered to vote and doing the things here that a democracy certainly is supposed to espouse and provide for its citizenry.”—
Answer to question: “In your work, Mr. Evers, in the state of Mississippi, have you personally been subjected to any difficulties or problems?”
Taken from “The Autobiography of Medgar Evers” (pages 300-301)
Statement 21 December, 2011
Thank you for a fantastic US-Mexico tour. I am anchored, delighted, and pale with gratitude. The reception in Mexico was beyond words. No attempt to describe could do justice.
Most stirring of all:
1 CHICAGO, US
2 MEXICO CITY, Mexico (second night)
3 MEXICO CITY, Mexico (first night)
4 PUEBLA, Mexico
5 GUADALAJARA, Mexico (first night)
6 MONTERREY, Mexico
7 SANTA FE, US
8 LAS VEGAS, US
9 GUADALAJARA, Mexico (second night)
10 PHOENIX, US
BELLY FLOP: the Shrine, Los Angeles. When it goes wrong, it certainly goes wrong, and this venue is an open slum. Degradingly, the front of the hall is an orchestra pit so lowered that I found myself singing to a mass of hair. The people at the front - who possibly paid the most - were quite literally down a hole. It was embarrassing for me, and surely humiliating for them.
I stopped the show at the Royal Oak Theater in Michigan in consideration of the audience - who were being unashamedly assaulted by the in-house security. It is difficult to watch this happen, especially when our friends (such as Douglas) are being forcibly choked to death simply for being there. If such attacks happened at the opera or in a night-club, the victims would rightfully sue. Strangely, in-house security sense that they have freedom to manhandle patrons of ‘rock’ shows. I wonder why? You all know how to contact the Royal Oak Theater. The Head of Security at the Royal Oak was the one inflicting the most damage. He obviously thought he was still down at the abattoir - or wished he were.
We had been over-cautioned so continuously about dangers in Mexico, yet we met nothing at all but great support and warmth. The audiences were the most loving (and loud) that I have ever experienced. Everywhere we went people were very gracious, and eager to help. It was a dream tour, and we all felt that we were resolutely home, burdened only by the practicalities of wondering how soon we could return.
We all enjoyed the Conan O’Brien Show, especially after the sinking loss of the Jimmy Kimmel Show being dropped. We only had one other free night to do the show, so Jimmy asked his booked guests ‘Lady A’ if they would switch their slot so that we could fit in; but they refused. Oh.
I now no longer expect to live long enough to experience an offer to record for a grownup label. This topic would not sound quite so banal had I not mentioned it 47 times already. I promise I will not mention it again. The world, I expect, will somehow endure, even as the follow-up to ‘Years of refusal’ grows less and less likely. End of subject. I promise.
I am very grateful to our new agency, William Morris Endeavor, for their astounding efforts to make this recent tour so enjoyable and triumphant. No management, no label, no promotion … all that we have are fantastic ticket sales. Which means you. And there is no greater thing worth having.
I have the most magnificent live crew on the planet. If I said my thanks forever it would not be long enough.
Thank you also to Kristeen Young for dragging her make-up case up and down life’s highways once again. The growing dedication of so many people who travel from city to city to follow the tour proves to me that now is better and stronger than the past. My admiration for those who refuse to miss a single concert is almost too emotive to voice. Words fail me.
Well. As the year dies, I return to England to prepare for the High Court circus of the NME case. Instead of simply saying “sorry” (for re-writing the answers to my last NME interview in 2007 in order to make me sound racist), the imperious NME would rather spend hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pounds in a High Court duel to the death. The fact that they have chosen a court drama over simply apologizing reinforces the notion that their original intent all along was to invent a sensation. So, here it is. And it is difficult to imagine anything more tragic from a magazine with such a gold-plated history. Of course, the court hearing itself will barely touch upon the actual 2007 interview, and will instead attempt to link my name to almost any unpleasant historical incident from the Irish potato famine to the murder of Medgar Evers. With the help of their giddy fan base at The Guardian newspaper, now is the NME’s big chance to scorch me off the human map for good. And what a triumph that would be for them. What a proud and eternal boast.
Oh England, oh England - is this all you have to offer?
Just very softly
London, December 2011
We moved to Mississippi when I was three. I’ve grown up here and it’s the home I know best. My heart has always been drawn back to Belize, though, where I was born. The jungle, the water, the people, and oh my goodness, the food. I’ve only been back twice, but I’ve missed it every year. I never imagined myself actually staying in Mississippi for the rest of my life when there are so many other places in this great big world I could go. However, plans change and my signed scholarship requires me to be here for another - one, two, three… - ten years. Subconsciously, I’ve found myself growing very fond of Mississippi. The evening runs to Kroger, the walks downtown, the delicious Cups coffee shops, the Art museum…all of it.
So when I watched The Help the other night with my husband, my eyes and ears perked up when Jackson entered the picture. WLBT. Woodrow Wilson Drive. and Medgar Evers. Wait, I knew he was an important figure in Jackson’s history, but I was curious to know the whole story behind his murder. So I go to Wikipedia and read his page. I know Wikipedia is not to be cited in universities (etc, etc), but it definitely provided me insight into this brave man and his work in the Civil Rights Movement. I am proud to know his story. And proud to be from his state. Evers story provided me links to other civil rights figures like James Meredith. What a legacy he has. I would very much like to meet Mr. Meredith and thank him for his stand and perseverance. Maybe I’ll run into him someday…
This small research I did also lead me to a page I did not appreciate: Ross Barnett. After reading about how he was so adamantly racist, rude, and cruel, I cannot see how he could have been governor of our state. And secondly, how can we have a huge tourist attraction, The Ross Barnett Reservoir, named after a man as terrible as him? I’m sorry, people, I don’t care that he was the governor of Mississippi when the Reservoir construction began. He was not worthy to have anything in this fine state named after him.
When I visit the Reservoir again, I know my silence will be in remembrance of the brave people who suffered and lost their lives in Mississippi fighting for their rights.
They give me a reason to be proud of this state I call home.