By Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2020

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi home where civil rights leader Medgar Evers was assassinated in 1963 has been declared a national monument.

The modest three-bedroom home in Jackson where Evers lived with his wife, Myrlie, and their children joins more than 150 U.S. landmarks awarded the distinction since 1906. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt called Evers a “true American hero.”

“It is our solemn responsibility as caretakers of America’s national treasures to tell the whole story of America’s heritage for the benefit of present and future generations,” Bernhardt said in a statement. “The life works of these great Americans helped shape our nation in making the United States a more perfect union, and for that, we should all be grateful.”

The Department of the Interior announced the designation Thursday, saying the National Park Service will manage the property.

Evers became a target for death threats as he fought segregation and racism in Mississippi as a field director for the NAACP. He was fatally shot outside the home June 12, 1963, while his wife and children were inside.

Byron De La Beckwith, a Ku Klux Klan member, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison for Evers’ slaying more than 30 years later in 1994, after two trials in the 1960s ended in hung juries.

Three of Mississippi’s members of Congress led a push to have Evers’ home declared a national monument in 2018, the Sun Herald reported. President Donald Trump approved the designation last year.

“The designation of his home is an everlasting tribute to his legacy,” U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said in a statement. “The importance of protecting the heritage and important artifacts for the enjoyment of all, and historical understanding, cannot be overstated. I am honored that the legacy of an icon in American history, Medgar Wiley Evers will forever be preserved.”

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