“Because of Medgar Evers…”

As the 50th anniversary of the murder of Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers approaches, numerous events are being held in Jackson to commemorate his legacy. The efforts of Evers and countless others that fought for civil rights of all Americans resonate in today’s society. Sadly, racism still exists and division hampers the ability of our communities to thrive and grow. But, the arts remains one of the best ways for people of all ages to express themselves. Arts helps young people stay out of trouble and find their own creative niche. I, too, love the arts and what it means to my life. Singing, dancing and writing are three things I love most!

Evers’s legacy and the arts back in the civil rights movement up to now were discussed in a panel last month at Jackson State University for the 7th annual Creative Arts Festival. The panel featured National Book Award Winner and author Jesmyn Ward and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Leonard Pitts with The Miami Herald, Freedom Rider Joan Trumpauer Mulholland and Evers’s neice Courtney Cockrell, attorney with Morgan & Morgan Law Firm in Jackson.

Here are memorable quotes from the panel, and enjoy the pictures and video of Ridgeland High alum Kristen Dupard reciting poem about Medgar Evers.

Pitts on what inspires activism: “I am a storyteller and I believe there are stories that have to be told. Who we are as Americans, how we treat each other. The arts are a component of social activism.”

Mulholland on the arts in the Civil Rights Movement: “Photojournalists work was done with great risk to their own safety. The arts is needed to do what’s necessary for the math and sciences. Artists today should insert themselves into social activism to make a real difference.”

Ward on making a statement in the arts: “Make people realize how human we are. Something that needs attention is to…encourage young people to pursue the arts.

Cockrell on how we can exemplify Evers’s legacy: “It is important to not have fear in whatever you do, and be true to your message. Everything you do affects more than just you.”

One panel for the Creative Arts Festival (l to r) Leonard Pitts, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, Jesmyn Ward and Courtney Cockrell.

A panel for the Creative Arts Festival (l to r) Leonard Pitts, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, Jesmyn Ward and Courtney Cockrell.

Courtney Cockrell is the niece of Medgar Evers, representing their family in the panel.

Courtney Cockrell is the niece of Medgar Evers, representing their family in the panel.

Pitts addresses the audience at JSU.

Pitts addresses the audience at JSU.

Mulholland speaks on her experience as a Freedom Rider.

Mulholland speaks on her experience as a Freedom Rider.

Ward gave good insight into her life as a writer and how the arts are vital to the community.

Ward gave good insight into her life as a writer and how the arts are vital to the community.

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