The widow of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, who was killed by a white supremacist outside his Jackson, Miss., home in 1963, laments that her husband is remembered primarily as an assassination victim.
This June, to mark the 50th anniversary of his slaying, a series of events will pay tribute to Evers’ work toward racial equality during his 37 years.
‘‘I see this as a celebration — one where we celebrate the man, what he did, and what his actions are still giving to us today, and to the future,’’ Evers’ widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams said Thursday.
Evers was the first field secretary in Mississippi for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He led marches, investigated racial violence, and organized voter registration drives. Through it all, he promoted a message of peace and unity.
During a news conference at a Jackson library named for Evers, Evers-Williams and daughter Reena Evers-Everette announced the details of the weeklong celebration. The first event, a memorial service, will be held June 5 at Arlington National Cemetery, just outside Washington, D.C.
Evers served in the Army and fought at the Battle of Normandy. A symposium at the Newseum in Washington will also be held on June 5.
On June 10 and 11, there will be tours of civil rights sites around Jackson, a civil rights film festival and a day of learning and dialogue for young people in collaboration with the University of Mississippi’s William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. June 12 will mark an international day of remembrance, including a celebration at the Mississippi Museum of Art, the chiming of bells and a tribute gala.
A decade ago, the anniversary of Evers’ slaying was marked with a memorial at his graveside, his daughter said. This year, she wanted to shift the focus from mourning to celebration.
‘‘I told my mother, ‘The 50th is coming up and I don’t want it to be about his death. I want it to be about his life,’’’ Evers-Everette said.