Medgar Wiley and Myrlie Beasley Evers Papers

2024 Evers Research Fellow Chosen 

Keon Burns, a dual doctoral candidate in history and Africana studies at Pennsylvania State University, has been named the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Research Fellow for 2024. Burns will conduct research this summer in the Medgar Wiley and Myrlie Beasley Evers Papers housed at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) in Jackson.

By examining the records and correspondence of Medgar Evers during his time as Mississippi field secretary for the NAACP, among other archival collections at MDAH, Burns hopes to gain insight into the role of Black businesspeople, particularly grocery store owners, and their impact as grassroots activists during the Civil Rights Movement.

“I will use the Evers Papers and other MDAH holdings as the basis for a dissertation chapter that builds off my master’s thesis,” said Burns. “The chapter will highlight the role of Black grocers in the Civil Rights Movement. I will use Mississippi and the grocery industry as a case study for the impact of Black-owned businesses on community organizing, resistance, and uplift.”

The Medgar and Myrlie Evers Research Scholars Program is a collaboration between MDAH and the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute. The program seeks to nurture upper-level graduate students and faculty scholars at the beginning of their academic careers to increase their life-long interest in history, and to promote continued academic and public appreciation of Medgar and Myrlie Evers’s life and works, the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, and the struggle for human rights.

Burns will use the $5,000 fellowship to cover travel, housing, and other expenses incurred while doing primary research at the archives.

The Medgar Wiley and Myrlie Beasley Evers Papers may be accessed at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building, 200 North Street, in Jackson. For more information on the fellowship or about the collection, contact Laura Heller at 601-576-6850 or by email at



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