The widow of murdered civil rights leader Medgar Evers will attend the christening of a 689-foot cargo ship named in his honor.

    Alcorn State University said in a news release that Myrlie Evers will attend the christening of the Navy ship on Saturday in San Diego. The university said that she also told the university that Alcorn State memorabilia that belonged to her husband will be placed in a time capsule in the vessel.

    Medgar Evers, a native of Newton County, was born in Decatur and was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II. While serving as a field secretary for the NAACP,  he was shot to death in 1963.

    Cochran, vice chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, issued a statement Thursday in advance of the christening of the USNS Medgar Evers, a new T-AKE 13 dry cargo and ammunition ship. The ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. (Pacific) at General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego.

“The USNS Medgar Evers is among a class of new Navy vessels honoring pioneers. Medgar Evers was a war veteran who gave his life as a pioneer for civil rights causes. His life’s work led to reforms that fought racial injustice and segregation far beyond the borders of his native Mississippi. I am pleased that the Navy is honoring his legacy with the christening of a new ship in his name,” Cochran said.

    The USNS Medgar Evers is the latest of the Lewis and Clark-class vessels built for the Navy. The T-AKE dry cargo vessels are being named to honor legendary pioneers and explorers. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a former governor of Mississippi, announced in October 2009 that the ship would be named for Evers. This class of ships is used to deliver ammunition, food and cargo to other vessels at sea.

    In 2003, in recognition of the 40th anniversary of Evers’ assassination, Cochran authored a resolution to designate a “Medgar Evers National Week of Remembrance,” as well as to recognize the civil rights accomplishments of Evers’ widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams. More recently, the Senator worked to support the proposed restoration of the NAACP office in Jackson’s historic Farish Street District that was used by Evers as the organization’s state field secretary.

Myrlie Evers-Williams will ceremonially name the ship by breaking the traditional bottle of champagne against its hull. Speaking will be dignitaries from the United States Navy, including Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, as well as Fred Harris, president of General Dynamics NASSCO.

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