On Tuesday, February 28th at 11:30 am Scott Barretta presented a lecture at Alcorn State University (ASU) in Dumas Hall in room 107. He spoke about Charles Evers and his impact on the Blues’ Legacy in Mississippi. The event was open to the public. It was sponsored by the Southwest Mississippi Center for Culture and Learning at ASU.
Barretta, a resident of Greenwood, Mississippi, is a writer and researcher for the Mississippi Blues Trail. He has taught Sociology at the University of Mississippi since 2002. He is a former editor for Living Blues Magazine as well as other publications. He is the author of Mississippi: State of the Blues and he hosts a one-hour radio show entitled “Highway 61” which is a Blues’ program at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at Ole Miss. It airs every Saturday at 10:00 pm and again on Sunday at 6:00 pm on Mississippi Public Broadcasting.
Barretta began his lecture with the audience by discussing Evers’ background and contributions to Blues. Evers, a Decatur, Mississippi native, was the brother of Medgar Evers. He attended and graduated from Alcorn. Evers enlisted in the United States Army and served during World War 2. When he returned home from his military service, he became the first African American Disc Jockey (DJ) at WHOC’s radio station in Philadelphia, Mississippi during the 1950s. During his show, he would sneak in Civil Rights’ messages to bring awareness to the movement. Evers ran multiple businesses such as a family-run funeral home, a bootleg liquor business and more. He also owned nightclubs and lounges where Blues’ bands played.
After Evers’ brother Medgar was assassinated on June 15, 1963, he was encouraged to take his brother’s place in the Civil Rights Movement. He was elected as the first African American mayor of Fayette, Mississippi. On the 10-year anniversary of Medgar’s assassination, Evers started to host annual Blues’ concerts to celebrate his brother. The concerts featured artists such as BB King, Mel Waiter, Karen Wolfe and more. “Evers hosted these Blues’ concerts for over 40 years,” stated Barretta.
After the presentation, Barretta did a Question-and-Answer session with the audience.