Medgar Evers

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Medgar Evers

Medgar Evers was born in Decatur, Mississippi in 1925 to a family of farmers. At the age of 18 Evers was drafted into the U.S. Army. His stint in the army took him to France and Germany fighting in World War II. In 1946 Evers received an honorable discharge from the Army and he returned home to Mississippi. In 1948 he began pursuing higher education at Alcorn College which is now Alcorn State University. As a senior at Alcorn College Evers met and married his wife Myrlie Beasley; he fathered three children during their marriage. Evers graduated from college in 1952 and began working as an insurance salesman. He also became active with the Regional Council of Negro Leadership which was a civil rights organization. While working with the RCNL Evers organized a boycott of a local gas station that refused to let blacks use their restrooms.

Evers also began working with the NAACP helping to enhance local participation and partnerships. In 1954 Evers applied for admission into the University of Mississippi Law School; his admission was rejected which led to a lawsuit against the school. Thurgood Marshall served as the lead attorney in the lawsuit against the Law School. Marshall, Evers and the NAACP lost the lawsuit against the Law School; but it was another blow thrown in the fight against educational discrimination. In May of 1954 the decision in the Brown v. Board of Education law suit came down ending the legal practice of discrimination in schools. Evers also became the first field secretary for the NAACP in Mississippi in 1954. He and his family moved to Jackson, Mississippi as a result of his work with the NAACP; his position required him to travel Mississippi recruiting new members and organizing voter–registration.

Evers put the skills he learned with the RCNL to good use by organizing many boycotts of business that refused its black customers. By 1955 Evers was a well-known well respected civil rights activist in Mississippi. He led the charge against the Mississippi legal system because of the constant discrimination against its black citizens. He challenged the Mississippi police department to reinvestigate the murder of Emmitt Till in 1955 and protested the conviction of Clyde Kennard in 1960. The more Evers worked the more popular he became which made him a target of the local whites who hated him.  He and his family faced numerous threats and violent actions by the white who hated him. In 1963 his home was bombed by those who disagreed with his ideas.

On June 12, 1963 Medgar Evers was shot in his back and later died at the hospital. Evers was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. Later that year the NAACP awarded him with their Spingarn Award. The attention the Evers murder received helped led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Byron De La Beckwith was named as lead suspect in the Evers murder because all of the evidence supported his guilt. Beckwith was a well- known racist and he received support from other racist whites including Governor Ross Barnett. In 1964 Beckwith was found not guilty and set free of all charges in two different trials. Myrlie Evers moved to California after the trial but she never gave up working to convict Beckwith of his killing of Medgar Evers. Her persistence paid off 31 years later when Beckwith was finally charged with the murder of Medgar Evers in 1994. Medgar Evers left a lasting impression on Mississippi, the Civil Rights movement and blacks in the south. Mr. Evers showed the courage to stand and fight oppression even in the face of death. He dedicated his life to fighting injustices and helping blacks in the south live equal to their white counterparts. Mr. Evers legacy will live forever in southern American lore. Mr. Medgar Evers, we stand on your shoulders.

J.A. Ward.

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