Date: Tuesday, February 15, 2022
JACKSON, Miss. — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland today visited several communities and sites in Mississippi to honor individuals and events that advanced the Civil Rights Movement. Secretary Haaland, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory, and Congressman Bennie Thompson met with local officials and community leaders in the Delta region and Jackson to discuss the Biden-Harris administration’s ongoing work to advance equity and social justice, including efforts to help tell a more complete 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 youth visiting from Chicago in the summer of 1955, was accused of flirting with the grocery store owner. The subsequent kidnapping and murder of Till captured national attention and helped catalyze the struggle for equal rights in Mississippi and across the nation.
Secretary Haaland, Chair Mallory and Congressman Thompson met with local officials and community members at the Emmett Till Historic Intrepid Center in Glendora and at the Tallahatchie Courthouse where Till’s murderers were swiftly 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 chartered town founded and governed by African Americans in Mississippi since its inception in the late 1800s. Mound Bayou was also the home of T.R.M. Howard, a national civil rights leader in the Delta, who shared his home to provide a safe haven for Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, and others during the trial.
The leaders finished the day at the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument in Jackson, a new national park unit that was authorized by the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act in March 2019. The site commemorates the lives of civil rights activists Medgar and Myrlie Evers. Medgar Evers’ assassination, the first murder of a nationally significant leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, heightened public awareness of civil rights issues and became a catalyst for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Secretary Haaland, Chair Mallory and Congressman Thompson met with Reena Evers in a visit that highlighted the partnership between the National Park Service and local communities, and the Department’s ongoing efforts to steward historic sites and lands in service of equity and justice.
The National Park Service is currently conducting a Special Resource Study of significant 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 of designating a new unit.