Date: Tuesday, February 15, 2022
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JACKSON, miss. – Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visited several Mississippi communities and sites today to honor people and events that have advanced the civil rights movement. Secretary Haaland, White House Environmental Quality Council Chair Brenda Mallory, and Congressman Bennie Thompson met with local officials and community leaders in the Delta and Jackson area to discuss the Biden-Harris administration’s ongoing work to advance equity and social justice, including efforts to help tell a fuller story of America.
Emmett Till’s cousin, Reverend Wheeler Parker Jr., joined the leaders for the day’s events in the Delta region. The group visited Bryant’s Grocery, the site where Till, a 14-year-old African-American visiting from Chicago in the summer of 1955, was accused of flirting with the grocery store owner. Till’s ensuing kidnapping and murder captured national attention and helped catalyze the fight for equal rights in Mississippi and across the country.
Secretary Haaland, Speaker Mallory, and Congressman Thompson met with local officials and community members at the Emmett Till Historic Intrepid Center in Glendora and the Tallahatchie Courthouse where Till’s killers were quickly acquitted. They also visited Mound Bayou for a community meeting and tour. Mound Bayou is listed as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance as the only charter town founded and governed by African Americans in Mississippi since its inception in the late 1800s. Mound Bayou was also the home of TRM Howard, a national civil rights leader in the Delta, who shared his home to provide safe haven for Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, and others during the trial.
The leaders ended the day at the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument in Jackson, a new national park unit authorized by the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act in March 2019. The site commemorates the lives of civilians the rights activists Medgar and Myrlie Evers. The assassination of Medgar Evers, the first murder of a nationally significant leader of the American civil rights movement, raised public awareness of civil rights issues and became a catalyst for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Secretary Haaland, President Mallory, and Congressman Thompson met with Reena Evers during a visit that highlighted the partnership between the National Park Service and local communities, as well as the continued efforts of the Department to manage historic sites and lands in the service of equity and justice.
The National Park Service is currently conducting a special resource study of important civil rights sites in Mississippi. Authorized by Congress in 2017, the study is designed to provide Congress with critical information used in the legislative process for designating a new unit.