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Medgar Evers college honors namesake in new exhibit

The man himself: Medgar Evers college introduced a new multimedia exhibit, honoring the late civil rights icon who the college is named after.
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Medgar Evers finally gets his shine at home.

An exhibit highlighting the life and death of civil rights activist Medgar Evers opened at Medgar Evers College library in Crown Heights on Dec. 14. It is first time the college installed a permanent multimedia exhibit honoring the late leader, detailing photos, artwork, trial transcripts, and even books about his life. Despite thousands of students attending the college, the display is also the first time some students will learn more about the icon, said one student.

“We don’t really get to know much about him even though his name and his picture is everywhere,” said Asuma Jalloh, a biology major at the college. “We never really go in-depth about him and his life.”

Medgar Evers was a civil rights and anti-segregation activist assassinated in Mississippi in June 1963. The City University of New York (CUNY) opened a college in Crown Heights in 1970 and named it after him. Jalloh feels that many students synonymize the name with the college, and not much thought to the person their school is named after.

“We need this to help every student appreciate him more because in a normal day students go to class and don’t pay attention to that,” said Jalloh. “I think this exhibit will help them get to know more about him and understand his life.”

Organizers of the exhibit stressed the importance of it at the college and said it was time a series was created about Evers because outside of the college name, many students do not know key things about his life and what they enjoy today as a result, said college professor Dr. Alexei Oluanov.

“This is our mission because Medgar Evers is a historical figure associated with our college and he is dear to our hearts,” said Dr. Oluanov. “He was the first martyr during the period of fighting for rights, and because of his contributions, that resulted in the better life we have today and he inspires us to continue this progress in the future.”

Several pieces used in the new exhibit have been presented at the college before, but it will finally have a home in the college’s library and remain there, said Oluanov. Included are transcripts from the trials, the infamous Life Magazine of his widow Myrlie Evers at his funeral, and several books and autobiographies.

Other students who are familiar with Evers contributed artwork for the display and are even working on more to grow the exhibit, which the college expects to grow into something bigger, said the exhibit’s curator, Yelena Novitskaya.

“There will be more student artwork in the future and there are students still finishing their collages right now,” she said. “Our overall initiative is to grow. This is just the stepping stone — we are in the process of turning the Medgar Evers College library into a repository associated with Medgar Evers.”

With the college hoping to seek more additions for the exhibit from the Mississippi Department of Archives and other historical preservation organizations, Oluanov said in the meantime he hopes the exhibit energizes the students to continue his work in social justice.

“I want everyone to become knowledgeable about Medgar Evers because his life is an inspiration for their own life journeys, and fighting for a better life,” he said.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.
Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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