Mississippi house of civil rights chief Medgar Evers now a nationwide monument

The Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument in Jackson is the 423rd unit of the National Park System, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced Thursday.

The memorial “commemorates the legacy of two civil rights activists who dedicated their lives from their humble three-bedroom ranch home to ending racial injustice and improving the quality of life for African American people,” a Home Office press release said.

Evers was gunned down in his driveway on June 12, 1963 at the height of the civil rights movement. He was 37 years old. Byron De La Beckwith was convicted of murder in 1994 after two previous trials ended in hanging juries in 1964. Beckwith died in prison in 2001.

“Our parents sought justice and equality for all Mississippians and knew that such changes would have local effects in the world. Our parents lived a life of service and made no sacrifices for awards or prizes,” Reena and James Van Evers said in the statement .

The house “still serves as a reminder of our divided past and as an educational tool to impart knowledge, excellence and positive involvement to all who study icons of American history: our parents, Medgar and Myrlie Evers.”

Bernhardt said it was an honor to establish the house as a memorial.

“Medgar Evers was a true American hero who fought against the Nazis in Normandy and fought against racism on the home front with his wife Myrlie,” said Bernhardt.

“It is our solemn responsibility as stewards of America’s national treasures to tell the full story of American heritage for the benefit of generations today and tomorrow.”

The monument is managed and operated by the National Park Service, according to a press release. Although it’s not currently open for public tours, the National Park Service will work with partners and the community to develop plans for visitors in the coming months.

The valet service acquired the home through promotion from Tougaloo College, a historically black college that operated the home as a museum and offered tours by appointment for nearly 25 years.

“We are honored to work with the National Park Service to advance the legacies of Medgar and Myrlie Evers and preserve their homes, both of whom are important to the Mississippi civil rights movement. The memorial is dedicated to the study and understanding of the United States of importance to his civil rights struggle, “said Carmen J. Walters, president of Tougaloo College.

CNN’s Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.

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