original header above designed by Anthony and me incorporates freedom
seekers taken from 19th-century slave advertisements. The lady has a
magnolia in hand; this represents the state of my birth, Mississippi,
USA. What I love most about those old ads is that they represent agency
and movement for which I stand. The excerpt under is from one of my
favorite documents, The Declaration of Independence. The image and
the quote reflect one of my favorite quotes by activist and Quaker
Lucretia Mott, “I am no advocate to passivity.”
Commemorating Freedom, Evers, and Four Little Girls As I Celebrate Education
I value the educational experience. At one time in the history of this nation, the law and a supremacist-controlled culture denied or limited the education of all ethnic groups. For southern blacks, like my grandmother, in Mississippi, the well was dry before, what we call, middle school. Nevertheless, she, like countless others, managed to get and build on the basics. Some Mississippians challenged the status quo and gave their lives or sacrificed greatly to make education accessible for all citizens. One such hero was fellow Mississippian and NAACP Field Secretary Medgar Evers.
I value hard work and activism. After being denied admission into the University of Mississippi's law school in 1954, Evers helped to integrate the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) by assisting the first official black student, James Meredith, in his quest for admission in 1962. Months later in 1963, after President John F. Kennedy gave what I call the "Civil Rights Crisis" speech, a coward in the dark of night murder Evers in his driveway. Evers had in his hands "Jim Crow Must Go" t-shirts. This death galvanized the movement and unquestionably swelled numbers at the 1963 March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs. I am a graduate of Tougaloo College and Ole Miss. Because of Evers, even before I was born, my life was impacted in immeasurable ways. His sacrificial body became a bridge for others and me. My Ph.D. did not come through my blood but, like James Weldon Johnson wrote in the National Negro Anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing," it came from the spilled blood and deferred dreams of others: "We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered." Still, just months after Evers was martyred and only weeks after the march on Washington, in September 1963, the blood of four little girls was shed after a domestic terrorist bombed a church during the Sunday School hour.
I value history and can be rightfully labeled an agitator. The first man who ever held me in this world was physician Dr. Felix Dunn. Dunn, like Evers, belonged to the NAACP. Dunn suffered hostility as he helped to integrate the beaches of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Unlike Evers, Dunn lived to see and enjoy the fruit of his labor. Evers and Dunn used what education provided them to challenge injustice.
I am for education for all citizens because education reform in this nation has come through bloodshed. Education serves as a passport for justice. Let us honor, together, the memories of all those who have aided this great nation of ours in unsung ways. Let us move to EDUCATE a NATION together!