(JACKSON, Miss.) — Jackson State University has signed a deal with the University Press of Mississippi to produce a digital short about the connections between slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers and the late author Margaret Walker Alexander.
The 10,000 word eBook, “Medgar and Margaret: A Digital Short,” will explore the life narratives of the two Mississippi icons through digital collections of the Margaret Walker Center and other archives.
Margaret Walker and Medgar Evers represented the fundamental dignity of African Americans as they challenged both the racist and misogynistic hierarchy of white supremacy in Jackson and across the South.
As state field secretary of the NAACP, Evers knew that he risked not only his life but the lives of his family by challenging the violent system of Jim Crow segregation and disenfranchisement. He was murdered in the driveway of his home on June 12, 1963, by white supremacist Byron de la Beckwith.
Walker had the unique opportunity to be mentored by the likes of W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes and Richard Wright and to mentor writers such as James Baldwin, Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez. As a professor of English at Jackson State, Walker was already renowned as the author of the classic Civil War-era novel, “Jubilee,” and the great poetic anthem, “For My People,” when she cemented her artistic and academic legacy by founding the Institute for the Study of the History, Life and Culture of Black People in 1968.
The lives of Evers and Walker intersected in Jackson in tangible ways with homes just a block apart on Guynes Street and offices located on John R. Lynch Street.
They were family friends and Evers’ death devastated Walker, who was out of town at the time. She wrote at length about him in personal journals and dedicated poetry to him, including “Micah,” part of her tribute to civil rights era martyrs in her book, “Prophets for a New Day.”
“Medgar and Margaret: A Digital Short” will explore the intersections of their lives and shed light on their relationship and the relationship between activism and the arts. The project also will include a 10,000-word text that will be embedded with digital features, bringing the story to life.
The project was the brainchild of Robert Blaine, DMA, one of the organizers of the JSU iPad Advantage Initiative and an Apple Distinguished Educator. Blaine will manage the technology component of the project. Robert Luckett, Ph.D., director of the Margaret Walker Center at JSU, will serve as coordinator, producer and co-author.
Also involved in the project is C.B. Claiborne, Ph.D., a professor of marketing at Texas Southern University, who is an expert in digital media and e-book production. Claiborne will direct the entire project. Maryemma Graham, Ph.D., the preeminent Margaret Walker scholar who is a distinguished professor of English at the University of Kansas, and Michael Williams, Ph.D., a biographer of Medgar Evers and assistant professor of History at Mississippi State University, are serving as consultants on the piece.
Throughout the digital short, hyperlinks will take readers to images of Evers and Walker, to video of Evers speaking at mass meetings, to recordings of Walker reading her own poetry, to archival resources like Walker’s personal journals in which she talks about her relationship with Evers, and to other primary source materials, much of which is held in the vaults of the Margaret Walker Center.
“Medgar and Margaret: A Digitial Short” will engage readers in an interactive learning experience modeled on the best practices in modern education and technology, but it will also promote and create greater accessibility to the collections at the Margaret Walker Center for a broader audience of students, scholars and interested parties.
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About Jackson State University: Challenging Minds, Changing Lives
Jackson State University, founded in 1877, is a historically black, high research activity university located in Jackson, the capital city of Mississippi. Jackson State’s nurturing academic environment challenges individuals to change lives through teaching, research and service. Officially designated as Mississippi’s Urban University, Jackson State continues to enhance the state, nation and world through comprehensive economic development, health-care, technological and educational initiatives. The only public university in the Jackson metropolitan area, Jackson State is located near downtown, with three satellite campuses throughout the city. For more information, visit www.jsums.edu or call 601-979-2121.