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The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) and the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute have named Teona Williams, a doctoral candidate at Yale University, the 2020 Medgar and Myrlie Evers Research Scholar. Williams’s research covers African American tenant farmers and civil rights activists who advocated for land cooperatives from the 1930s through the 1980s.

While at the Mississippi state archives, Williams will use the papers of Medgar and Myrlie Evers to understand how the NAACP advocated for black sharecroppers across the Delta, materials on the Republic of New Africa (RNA), Emergency Land Fund ephemera, and the Tougaloo College Civil Rights Collection.

“I eagerly await the opportunity to explore the Jackson Advocate and other associated material of the RNA to document the multiple strands of land ideology that sprouted out of black nationalists movements,” said Williams. “I am excited to explore the Medgar Evers papers to understand how the NAACP advocated for black sharecroppers across the Delta.”

Williams graduated with a BA in environmental studies and history from Bowdoin College. She holds an MA from the University of Michigan, and she is currently at work on a PhD in the Department of History at Yale University. Her dissertation follows the wide network of Delta farmers and civil rights activists and their collective struggle to establish land cooperatives.

Williams will use the $4,000 award to cover travel, housing, and other expenses while doing primary research at MDAH.

“We’re delighted to partner with the Evers Institute on this scholarship,” said David Pilcher, director of the MDAH Archives and Record Services Division. “Our goal is to facilitate new and exciting research using the tremendous resources here at the state archives.”

The Medgar and Myrlie Evers Research Scholars Program, a collaboration between MDAH and the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute, encourages work in the history of civil and human rights using the state archives’ holdings to publish original research.

The Evers Papers may be accessed at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building in Jackson. For more information on the Evers Scholar program or about the Evers Papers, contact Laura Heller at lheller@mdah.ms.gov.

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