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Medgar Wiley Evers (July 2, 1925June 12, 1963) was an American
civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights Rights are legal Law is a system of rules created and law enforcement, enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', ...
activist in Mississippi, the state's field secretary for the
NAACP The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights Rights are law, legal, social, or ethics, ethical principles of Liberty, freedom or entitlement ...
, and a
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
veteran who had served in the
United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consists ma ...
. He worked to overturn
segregationSegregation may refer to: Separation of people * Geographical segregation, rates of two or more populations which are not homogenous throughout a defined space *Educational segegration * Housing segregation * Racial segregation, separation of huma ...
at the
University of Mississippi The University of Mississippi, byname Ole Miss, is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organis ...
, end the segregation of public facilities, and expand opportunities for
African Americans African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being t ...
, which included the enforcement of
voting rights Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise, is the right to vote in public, political elections (although the term is sometimes used for any right to vote Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an Constituency, ele ...

voting rights
. A college graduate, Evers became active in the
Civil Rights Movement The 1954–1968 civil rights movement in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North ...
in the 1950s. Following the 1954 ruling of the
United States Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the Federal judiciary of the United States, federal judiciary of the United States of America. It has ultimate and largely Procedures of the Supreme Court of the United ...

United States Supreme Court
in ''
Brown v. Board of Education ''Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka'', 347 U.S. 483 (1954), was a landmark A landmark is a recognizable natural or artificial feature used for navigation Navigation is a field of study that focuses on the process of monitoring and con ...
'' that segregated public schools were unconstitutional, Evers challenged the segregation of the state-supported public University of Mississippi, applying to law school there. He also worked for voting rights, economic opportunity, access to public facilities, and other changes in the segregated society. Evers was awarded the 1963 NAACP
Spingarn Medal The Spingarn Medal is awarded annually by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1 ...
. Evers was assassinated in 1963 by
Byron De La Beckwith Byron De La Beckwith Jr. (November 9, 1920 – January 21, 2001) was an American white supremacist and Ku Klux Klan, Klansman from Greenwood, Mississippi, Greenwood, Mississippi, who assassinated the Civil Rights Movement, civil rights leader Med ...
, a member of the
White Citizens' Council The Citizens' Councils (commonly referred to as the White Citizens' Councils) were an associated network of white supremacist organizations in the United States, concentrated in the South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass poin ...
in
Jackson, Mississippi Jackson, officially the City of Jackson, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ' ...
. This group was formed in 1954 in Mississippi to resist the integration of schools and civil rights activism. As a veteran, Evers was buried with full military honors at
Arlington National Cemetery Arlington National Cemetery is a United States National Cemetery System, United States military cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., in whose the dead of the nation's conflicts have been burie ...

Arlington National Cemetery
. His murder and the resulting trials inspired civil rights protests; his life and these events inspired numerous works of art, music, and film.
All-white juries Racial discrimination in jury selection is specifically prohibited by law in many jurisdictions throughout the world. In the United States it has been defined through a series of judicial decisions. However, juries composed solely of one racial gr ...
failed to reach verdicts in the first two trials of Beckwith in the 1960s. He was convicted in 1994 in a new state trial based on new evidence. Medgar's widow, Myrlie Evers, became a noted activist in her own right, serving as national chair of the NAACP. His brother
Charles Evers James Charles Evers (September 11, 1922July 22, 2020) was an American civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' political freedom, freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, an ...

Charles Evers
was the first African American to be elected as mayor of a city in Mississippi in the post-Reconstruction era; he won the office in 1969 in Fayette.


Early life

Evers was born on July 2, 1925, in
Decatur, Mississippi Decatur is a town in Newton County, Mississippi Mississippi () is a U.S. state, state in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States, bordered to the north by Tennessee; to the east by Alabama; to the south by th ...
, the third of five children (including elder brother
Charles Evers James Charles Evers (September 11, 1922July 22, 2020) was an American civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' political freedom, freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, an ...

Charles Evers
) of Jesse (Wright) and James Evers. The family included Jesse's two children from a previous marriage. The Evers family owned a small farm and James also worked at a sawmill. Evers and his siblings walked a day to attend
segregatedSegregation may refer to: Separation of people * Geographical segregation, rates of two or more populations which are not homogenous throughout a defined space *Educational segegration * Housing segregation * Racial segregation, separation of huma ...
schools; eventually Medgar earned his high school diploma. Evers served in the
United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consists ma ...
during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
from 1943 to 1945. He was sent to the
European Theater The European theatre of World War II was the main theatre of combat during World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved W ...
where he fought in the
Battle of Normandy Operation Overlord was the codename for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe Europe is a continent A cont ...
in June 1944. After the end of the war, Evers was honorably discharged as a sergeant. In 1948, Evers enrolled at Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (a
historically black college Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher education in the United States Higher education in the United States is an optional stage of formal learning Education is the process of facilitating ...
, now
Alcorn State University Alcorn State University (Alcorn State, ASU or Alcorn) is a public historically black land-grant university in Lorman, Mississippi. It was founded in 1871 and was the first Black land grant college established in the United States. One of ...

Alcorn State University
), majoring in business administration. He also competed on the debate, football, and track teams, sang in the choir, and was junior class president. He earned his
Bachelor of Arts Bachelor of Arts (BA or AB; from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to ...
in 1952. On December 24, 1951, he married classmate . Together they had three children: Darrell Kenyatta, Reena Denise, and James Van Dyke Evers.


Activism

The couple moved to
Mound Bayou, Mississippi Mound Bayou is a city in Bolivar County, Mississippi, Bolivar County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 1,533 at the 2010 United States Census, 2010 census, down from 2,102 in 2000. It was founded as an independent black community in ...
, a town developed by African Americans, where Evers became a salesman for
T. R. M. Howard Theodore Roosevelt Mason Howard (March 4, 1908 – May 1, 1976) was an American civil rights leader, fraternal organization leader, entrepreneur and surgeon In modern medicine Medicine is the Art (skill), art, science, and Praxis (proces ...
's Magnolia Mutual Life Insurance Company. Evers was also president of the
Regional Council of Negro Leadership The Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) was a society in Mississippi founded by T. R. M. Howard in 1951 to promote a program of civil rights, self-help, and business ownership. It pledged "to guide our people in their civic responsibiliti ...
(RCNL), which began to organize actions for civil rights; Evers helped organize the RCNL's boycott of gasoline stations that denied blacks the use of the stations' restrooms. Evers and his brother Charles attended the RCNL's annual conferences in Mound Bayou between 1952 and 1954, which drew crowds of 10,000 or more. In 1954, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision that segregated public schools were unconstitutional, Evers applied to the state-supported University of Mississippi Law School, but his application was rejected because of his race. He submitted his application as part of a test case by the
NAACP The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights Rights are law, legal, social, or ethics, ethical principles of Liberty, freedom or entitlement ...
. On November 24, 1954, Evers was named as the NAACP's first field secretary for Mississippi. In this position, he helped organize boycotts and set up new local chapters of the NAACP. He was involved with
James Meredith James Howard Meredith (born June 25, 1933) is the first African-American student admitted to the Racial segregation, racially segregated University of Mississippi. He is also an American civil rights movement figure, writer, political adviser ...

James Meredith
's efforts to enroll in the University of Mississippi in the early 1960s. Evers also encouraged Dr. Gilbert Mason Sr. in his organizing of the Biloxi wade-ins from 1959 to 1963, protests against segregation of the city's public beaches on the
Mississippi Gulf Coast The Mississippi Gulf Coast, also known as the Mississippi Gulf Coast region, Coastal Mississippi, or simply The Coast, is the area of southern Mississippi along the Mississippi Sound along the Gulf of Mexico. Geography At the state's creation, H ...
. Evers conducted actions to help integrate Jackson's privately owned buses and tried to integrate the public parks. He led voter registration drives, and used boycotts to integrate Leake County schools and the . Evers's civil rights leadership, along with his investigative work, made him a target of
white supremacists White supremacy or white supremacism is the belief that white people White is a Race (human categorization), racialized classification of people and a Human skin color, skin color specifier, generally used for people of Ethnic groups i ...
. Following the ''
Brown v. Board of Education ''Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka'', 347 U.S. 483 (1954), was a landmark A landmark is a recognizable natural or artificial feature used for navigation Navigation is a field of study that focuses on the process of monitoring and con ...
'' decision, local whites founded the
White Citizens' Council The Citizens' Councils (commonly referred to as the White Citizens' Councils) were an associated network of white supremacist organizations in the United States, concentrated in the South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass poin ...
in Mississippi, and numerous local chapters were started, to resist the integration of schools and facilities. In the weeks before Evers was killed, he encountered new levels of hostility. His public investigations into the 1955
lynching Lynching is an extrajudicial killing An extrajudicial killing (also known as extrajudicial execution or extralegal killing) is the homicide, killing of a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any Judiciary, judicial proc ...
of Chicago teenager
Emmett Till Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941August 28, 1955) was a 14-year-old African Americans, African American who was Lynching in the United States, lynched in Mississippi in 1955, after being accused of offending a white woman in her family's gr ...
in Mississippi, and his vocal support of
Clyde Kennard Clyde Kennard (June 12, 1927July 4, 1963) was an American Korean War The Korean War (South Korean: ; North Korean: , "Fatherland Liberation War"; 25 June 1950–27 July 1953) was a war between North Korea (with the support of China and the S ...
, had made him a prominent black leader. On May 28, 1963, a
Molotov cocktail A Molotov cocktail, also known as a petrol bomb, gasoline bomb, bottle bomb, poor man's grenade, fire bomb (not to be confused with an actual fire bomb), fire bottle or just Molotov, sometimes shortened as Molly, is a generic name used for a ...
was thrown into the carport of his home. On June 7, 1963, Evers was nearly run down by a car after he came out of the NAACP office in
Jackson, Mississippi Jackson, officially the City of Jackson, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ' ...
.


Assassination

Medgar Evers lived with the constant threat of death. A large white supremacist population and the
Ku Klux Klan The Ku Klux Klan (), commonly shortened to the KKK or the Klan, is an American white supremacist White supremacy or white supremacism is the belief that white people White is a racial classification and skin color specifier, gene ...
were present in
Jackson Jackson may refer to: People * Jackson (name), including a list of people with the surname or given name, with nicknames including "Jackson" "Jacky" or "Jack" Places Australia *Jackson, Queensland, a town in the Maranoa Region *Jackson North, ...
and its suburbs. The risk was so high that before his death, Evers and his wife Myrlie had trained their children on what to do in case of a shooting, bombing or other kind of attack on their lives.Bates, Karen Grigsby. "Trials & Transformation: Myrlie Evers' 30-Year Fight to Convict Medgar's Accused Killer", ''Emerge'' 02 1994: 35. ''ProQuest. ''Web. May 27, 2017 Evers, who was regularly followed home by at least two FBI cars and one police car, arrived at his home on the morning of his death without an escort. None of his usual protection was present, for reasons unspecified by the FBI or local police. There has been speculation that many members of the police force at the time were members of the Klan. In the early morning of Wednesday, June 12, 1963, just hours after President
John F. Kennedy John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the ...

John F. Kennedy
's nationally televised Civil Rights Address, Evers pulled into his driveway after returning from a meeting with NAACP lawyers. Evers' family had worried for his safety that day, and Evers himself had warned his wife that he felt in greater danger than usual. Emerging from his car and carrying NAACP T-shirts that read " Jim Crow Must Go", Evers was struck in the back with a bullet fired from an Eddystone Enfield 1917 rifle; the bullet passed through his heart. Initially thrown to the ground by the impact of the shot, Evers rose and staggered before collapsing outside his front door. His wife, Myrlie, was the first to find him. He was taken to the local hospital in Jackson, where he was initially refused entry because of his race. His family explained who he was and he was admitted; he died in the hospital 50 minutes later. He was only 37 years old. Evers was the first black man to be admitted to an all-white hospital in Mississippi. Mourned nationally, Evers was buried on June 19 in
Arlington National Cemetery Arlington National Cemetery is a United States National Cemetery System, United States military cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., in whose the dead of the nation's conflicts have been burie ...

Arlington National Cemetery
, where he received full military honors before a crowd of more than 3,000. After Evers was assassinated, an estimated 5,000 people marched from the Masonic Temple on Lynch Street to the Collins Funeral Home on North Farish Street in Jackson.
Allen Johnson Allen Kenneth Johnson (born March 1, 1971) is a retired United States, American hurdling Athletics (sport), athlete who won the gold medal in the 110 metre hurdles at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. He is also a four-time world cha ...
, the Rev.
Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King Jr.; January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or part ...
and other civil rights leaders led the procession. The Mississippi police came prepared with riot gear and rifles in case the protests turned violent. While tensions were initially high in the stand-off between police and marchers, both in Jackson and in many similar marches around the state, leaders of the movement maintained nonviolence among their followers.


Trials

On June 21, 1963,
Byron De La Beckwith Byron De La Beckwith Jr. (November 9, 1920 – January 21, 2001) was an American white supremacist and Ku Klux Klan, Klansman from Greenwood, Mississippi, Greenwood, Mississippi, who assassinated the Civil Rights Movement, civil rights leader Med ...
, a fertilizer salesman and member of the Citizens' Council (and later of the Ku Klux Klan), was arrested for Evers' murder. District Attorney and future governor prosecuted De La Beckwith.
All-white juries Racial discrimination in jury selection is specifically prohibited by law in many jurisdictions throughout the world. In the United States it has been defined through a series of judicial decisions. However, juries composed solely of one racial gr ...
in February and April 1964 deadlocked on De La Beckwith's guilt and failed to reach a verdict. At the time, most black people were still disenfranchised by Mississippi's constitution and voter registration practices; this meant they were also excluded from juries, which were drawn from the pool of registered voters. Myrlie Evers did not give up the fight for the conviction of her husband's killer. She waited until a new judge had been assigned in the county to take her case against De La Beckwith back into the courtroom. In 1994, De La Beckwith was prosecuted by the state based on new evidence. Bobby DeLaughter was the prosecutor. During the trial, the body of Evers was exhumed for an autopsy. De La Beckwith was convicted of murder on February 5, 1994, after having lived as a free man for much of the three decades following the killing. (He had been imprisoned from 1977 to 1980 on separate charges: conspiring to murder A. I. Botnick.) In 1997, De La Beckwith appealed his conviction in the Evers case, but the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld it and the US Supreme Court declined to hear it. He died at age 80 in prison on January 21, 2001.


Legacy

Evers was memorialized by leading Mississippi and national authors both black and white:
James Baldwin James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist A novelist is an author An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book A book is a medium for recording information ...
,
Margaret Walker Margaret Walker (Margaret Abigail Walker Alexander by marriage; July 7, 1915 – November 30, 1998) was an American poet and writer. She was part of the African-American literary movement in Chicago, known as the Chicago Black Renaissance. He ...
,
Eudora Welty Eudora Alice Welty (April 13, 1909 – July 23, 2001) was an American short story writer, novelist and photographer, who wrote about the American South The Southern United States, also referred to as the Southern States, the American South ...
, and
Anne Moody Anne Moody (September 15, 1940 – February 5, 2015) was an American author who wrote about her experiences growing up poor and black in rural Mississippi, and her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement through the NAACP, Congress of Racial Equal ...

Anne Moody
. In 1963, Evers was posthumously awarded the
Spingarn Medal The Spingarn Medal is awarded annually by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1 ...
by the NAACP. In 1969,
Medgar Evers College Medgar Evers College is a public college#REDIRECT Public university#REDIRECT Public university A public university or public college is a university or college that is in state ownership or receives significant Government spending, public funds t ...

Medgar Evers College
was established in
Brooklyn, New York Brooklyn () is a Boroughs of New York City, borough of New York City, coextensive with Kings County, in the U.S. state of New York (state), New York. It is the most populous Administrative divisions of New York (state)#County, county in the stat ...

Brooklyn, New York
, as part of the
City University of New York The City University of New York (CUNY ) is the public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organisation (E ...
. Evers's widow Myrlie Evers co-wrote the book ''For Us, the Living'' with William Peters in 1967. In 1983, a television movie was made based on the book. Celebrating Evers's life and career, it starred Howard Rollins Jr. and
Irene Cara Irene Cara Escalera (born March 18, 1959) known professionally as Irene Cara, is an American singer, songwriter, dancer, and actress. Cara sang and co-wrote the song "" (from the film '), for which she won an and a in 1984. Cara is also known ...
as Medgar and Myrlie Evers, airing on
PBS The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American public broadcaster Public broadcasting involves , and other electronic media outlets whose primary mission is . In many countries of the world, comes from governments, especially vi ...
. The film won the
Writers Guild of America The Writers Guild of America is the joint efforts of two different US labor unions representing TV and film writers: * The Writers Guild of America, East The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) is a trade union, labor union representing film ...
award for Best Adapted Drama. In 1969, a community pool in the
Central DistrictCentral District may refer to: Places * Central District (Botswana) * Central district, Plovdiv, Bulgaria * Central District, Xiamen, China, now Siming District, Fujian * Central, Hong Kong, also called Central District * List of Central Districts ...
neighborhood of
Seattle Seattle ( ) is a seaport The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Barcola The thumb is the first digit of the hand, next to the index finger. When a person is standing in the medical anatomical position (where the palm is facing to the front) ...

Seattle
, Washington, was named after Evers, honoring his life. On June 28, 1992, the city of Jackson, Mississippi, erected a statue in honor of Evers. All of Delta Drive (part of U.S. Highway 49) in Jackson was renamed in Evers's honor. In December 2004, the Jackson City Council changed the name of the city's airport to Jackson–Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport in his honor. His widow Myrlie Evers became a noted activist in her own right, eventually serving as national chairperson of the NAACP. Myrlie also founded the Medgar Evers Institute in 1998, with the initial goal of preserving and advancing the legacy of Medgar Evers' life's work. Anticipating the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Medgar Evers and recognizing the international leadership role of Myrlie Evers, the Institute's board of directors changed the organization's name to the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute. Medgar's brother
Charles Evers James Charles Evers (September 11, 1922July 22, 2020) was an American civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' political freedom, freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, an ...

Charles Evers
returned to Jackson in July 1963, and served briefly with the NAACP in his slain brother's place. He remained involved in Mississippi civil rights activities for many years, and in 1969, was the first African-American mayor elected in the state. He died on July 22, 2020, aged 97. On the 40th anniversary of Evers's assassination, hundreds of civil rights veterans, government officials, and students from across the country gathered around his grave site at Arlington National Cemetery to celebrate his life and legacy. Barry Bradford and three students—Sharmistha Dev, Jajah Wu, and Debra Siegel, formerly of Adlai E. Stevenson High School in
Lincolnshire, Illinois Lincolnshire is a village in Vernon Township, Lake County, Illinois, Vernon Township, Lake County, Illinois, Lake County, in the United States of America, U.S. state of Illinois. The village is a northern suburb of Chicago. The population of Linco ...
—planned and hosted the commemoration in his honor. Evers was the subject of the students' research project. In October 2009,
Navy Secretary The secretary of the Navy (or SECNAV) is a statutory officer () and the head (chief executive officer) of the United States Department of the Navy, Department of the Navy, a military department (component organization) within the United States De ...
Ray Mabus Raymond Edwin Mabus Jr. (born October 11, 1948) is an American politician, diplomat, and member of the Democratic Party who served as the 75th United States Secretary of the Navy The secretary of the Navy (or SECNAV) is a statutory officer () ...
, a former
Mississippi Mississippi () is a U.S. state, state in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States, bordered to the north by Tennessee; to the east by Alabama; to the south by the Gulf of Mexico; to the southwest by Louisiana; a ...
governor A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the Executive (government), executive branch of a non-sovereign or sub-national level of government, ranking under the head of state. In federations, ''governor'' may be t ...

governor
, announced that , a , would be named in the activist's honor. The ship was christened by Myrlie Evers-Williams on November 12, 2011. In June 2013, a statue of Evers was erected at his alma mater, Alcorn State University, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death. Alumni and guests from around the world gathered to recognize his contributions to American society. Evers was honored in a tribute at Arlington National Cemetery on the 50th anniversary of his death. Former President
Bill Clinton William Jefferson Clinton ('' né'' Blythe III; born August 19, 1946) is an American politician and attorney who served as the 42nd president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and ...

Bill Clinton
, Attorney General
Eric Holder Eric Himpton Holder Jr. (born January 21, 1951) is an American lawyer who served as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States The United States attorney general (AG) leads the United States Department of Justice, and is the chief lawyer o ...

Eric Holder
, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Senator
Roger Wicker Roger Frederick Wicker (born July 5, 1951) is an American attorney and politician serving as the senior United States Senator The United States Senate is the Upper house, upper chamber of the United States Congress, with the United State ...
, and NAACP President
Benjamin Jealous Benjamin Todd Jealous (born January 18, 1973) is an American civil rights leader and social impact investor. He served as the president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 2008 ...

Benjamin Jealous
all spoke commemorating Evers. Evers's widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, spoke of his contributions to the advancement of civil rights:
Medgar was a man who never wanted adoration, who never wanted to be in the limelight. He was a man who saw a job that needed to be done and he answered the call and the fight for freedom, dignity and justice not just for his people but all people.
He was identified as a Freedom hero by The My Hero Project. In 2017, the Medgar and Myrlie Evers House was named as a
National Historic Landmark A National Historic Landmark (NHL) is a building, district, object, site, or structure that is officially recognized by the United States government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. governme ...
. Two years later, in 2019, the site was designated a
National Monument A national monument is a monument is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the ...
.


In popular culture


Music

Musician
Bob Dylan Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman; May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, author and visual artist. Often regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Dylan has been a major figure in for more than 50 years. Much of ...

Bob Dylan
wrote his song "
Only a Pawn in Their Game "Only a Pawn in Their Game" is a song written by Bob Dylan about the assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, Jackson, Mississippi, on June 12, 1963. Showing support for African-Americans during the American Civi ...
" about the assassination on July 2, 1963, on what would have been Evers' 38th birthday.
Nina Simone Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), known professionally as Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and Civil rights movement, civil rights activist. Her music spanned a broad range of ...

Nina Simone
wrote and sang " Mississippi Goddam" about the Evers case.
Phil Ochs Philip David Ochs (; December 19, 1940 – April 9, 1976) was an American songwriter and protest song, protest singer (or, as he preferred, a topical singer). Ochs was known for his sharp wit, sardonic humor, political activism, often alliterati ...
referred to Evers in the song "
Love Me, I'm a Liberal "Love Me, I'm a Liberal" is a satirical song by Phil Ochs, an American singer-songwriter. Originally released on his 1966 live album, ''Phil Ochs in Concert'', "Love Me, I'm a Liberal" was soon one of Ochs's most popular concert staples. Introdu ...
" and wrote the songs "Another Country" and "Too Many Martyrs" (also titled "The Ballad of Medgar Evers") in response to the killing.
Malvina Reynolds Malvina Reynolds (August 23, 1900 – March 17, 1978) was an American folk music, folk/blues singer-songwriter and political activist, best known for her songwriting, particularly the songs "Little Boxes" and "What Have They Done to the Rain". ...
referenced Evers' murder in her song, "It Isn't Nice". Matthew Jones and the
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, often pronounced ) was the principal channel of student commitment in the United States to the civil rights movement The 1954–1968 civil rights movement in the United States T ...
Freedom Singers The Freedom Singers originated as a quartet formed in 1962 at Albany State College in Albany, Georgia. After folk singer Pete Seeger witnessed the power of their congregational-style of singing, which fused black Baptist ''a cappella'' church singin ...
recorded a version of the latter song.
Wadada Leo Smith Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith (born December 18, 1941) is an American trumpeter and composer, working primarily in the fields of avant-garde jazz and free improvisation. He was one of three finalists for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for music, Pulitzer Priz ...

Wadada Leo Smith
's album ''
Ten Freedom Summers ''Ten Freedom Summers'' is a four-disc box set by American trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith. It was released on May 5, 2012, by Cuneiform Records. Smith wrote its musical composition, compositions intermittently over the course of 34 years, ...
'' contains a track called "Medgar Evers: A Love-Voice of a Thousand Years' Journey for Liberty and Justice". Jackson C. Frank's self-titled
debut album A debut or début is the first public appearance of a person or thing. * Debut (society), the formal introduction of young upper-class women to society * Debut novel, an author's first published novel * Debut issue, the first issue of a comic book ...
, released in 1965, also includes a reference to Medgar Evers in the song "Don't Look Back".


Essays and books

Eudora Welty Eudora Alice Welty (April 13, 1909 – July 23, 2001) was an American short story writer, novelist and photographer, who wrote about the American South The Southern United States, also referred to as the Southern States, the American South ...
's short story, "Where Is the Voice Coming From?", in which the speaker is the imagined assassin of Medgar Evers, was published in ''The New Yorker'' in July 1963. Attorney Robert DeLaughter wrote a first-person narrative article entitled "Mississippi Justice" published in ''Reader's Digest'' about his experiences as state prosecutor in the murder trial. He added to this account in a book, ''Never Too Late: A Prosecutor's Story of Justice in the Medgar Evers Case'' (2001).


Film

Evers was portrayed by
Howard Rollins Howard Ellsworth Rollins Jr. (October 17, 1950 – December 8, 1996) was an American stage, film, and television actor. Howard Rollins was best known for his role as Andrew Young in 1978's ''King (TV miniseries), King'', George Haley in the 1979 ...
in the 1983 television film '' For Us the Living: The Medgar Evers Story''. The film ''
Ghosts of Mississippi ''Ghosts of Mississippi'' is a 1996 American biographical film, biographical courtroom drama film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg, and James Woods. The plot is based on the true story of the 1994 trial of Byron D ...
'' (1996), directed by
Rob Reiner Robert Norman Reiner (born March 6, 1947) is an American actor and filmmaker. As an actor, Reiner first came to national prominence with the role of Michael Stivic Michael Casimir "Mike" Stivic is a fictional character played by Rob Reiner o ...

Rob Reiner
, explores the 1994 trial of De La Beckwith in which prosecutor DeLaughter of the Hinds County District Attorney's office secured a conviction in state court. Beckwith and DeLaughter were played by
James Woods James Howard Woods (born April 18, 1947) is a retired American actor and producer. He is known for his work in various film, stage, and television productions. He started his career in minor roles on and off-Broadway (theatre), Broadway. In 19 ...
and
Alec Baldwin Alexander Rae Baldwin III (born April 3, 1958) is an American actor, writer, comedian, film producer, and political activist. He is the eldest of the four actor brothers in the Baldwin family The Baldwin family are American relatives, who, by ...

Alec Baldwin
, respectively;
Whoopi Goldberg Caryn Elaine Johnson (born November 13, 1955), known professionally as Whoopi Goldberg (), is an American actor and comedian.Kuchwara, Michael (AP Drama Writer)"Whoopi Goldberg: A One-Woman Character Parade" ''The Fremont News-Messenger''. Novem ...
played Myrlie Evers. Evers was portrayed by James Pickens Jr. The film was based on a book of the same name. In the documentary film ''
I Am Not Your Negro ''I Am Not Your Negro'' is a 2016 documentary film, documentary film and Social criticism, social critique directed by Raoul Peck, based on James Baldwin's unfinished manuscript ''Remember This House''. Narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson, the fi ...
'' (2016), Evers is one of three black activists (the other two are
Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King Jr.; January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or part ...
and
Malcolm X Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little; May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965) was an African-American Muslim Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God O ...
) who are the focus of reminiscences by author
James Baldwin James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist A novelist is an author An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book A book is a medium for recording information ...
. Baldwin recounts the circumstances of and his reaction to Evers's assassination. In the 2011 film ''
The Help ''The Help'' is a historical fiction novel by American author Kathryn Stockett and published by Penguin Books in 2009. The story is about African Americans working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960s. A ''USA To ...
'', a clip of Medgar Evers speaking for civil rights is shown on TV, quickly followed by news of his assassination, and a glimpse of an article by his widow published in ''Life'' magazine. A 2021 episode of Extra History from ''
Extra Credits ''Extra Credits'' is a video lesson A video lesson or lecture is a video Video is an electronic Electronic may refer to: *Electronics Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the e ...
'' talks about Evers, his activism, and assassination.


See also

*
List of civil rights leaders Civil rights leaders are influential figures in the promotion and implementation of political freedom Political freedom (also known as political autonomy or political agency) is a central concept Concepts are defined as abstr ...


References


Further reading

* *Bruce, Catherine Fleming (2016)
The Sustainers: Being, Building and Doing Good through Activism in the Sacred Spaces of Civil Rights, Human Rights and Social Movements.
Tnovsa LLC. ISBN 9780996219020.


External links


SNCC Digital Gateway: Medgar Evers
Documentary website created by the SNCC Legacy Project and Duke University, telling the story of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee & grassroots organizing from the inside-out
JFK First Draft Condolence Letter to Medgar Evers’ Widow, June 12, 1963
Shapell Manuscript Foundation
Audio recording of T. R. M. Howard's eulogy at the memorial service for Medgar Evers, June 15, 1963, Jackson, Mississippi.
*
Medgar Evers in the U.S. Federal Census
American Civil Rights Pioneers *
FBI article: Civil Rights in the ‘60s: Justice for Medgar Evers

Medgar Evers's FBI file
hosted at the
Internet Archive The Internet Archive is an American digital library A digital library, also called an online library, an internet library, a digital repository, or a digital collection is an online databaseAn online database is a database In computing ...

Medgar Evers Fund Collected Records
held a
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
{{DEFAULTSORT:Evers, Medgar 1925 births 1963 deaths 1963 murders in the United States 20th-century African-American activists Activists for African-American civil rights Alcorn State Braves football players Alcorn State University alumni United States Army personnel of World War II American terrorism victims Assassinated American civil rights activists Burials at Arlington National Cemetery Deaths by firearm in Mississippi Ku Klux Klan crimes in Mississippi Military personnel from Mississippi Murdered African-American people People from Decatur, Mississippi People from Mound Bayou, Mississippi People murdered in Mississippi Players of American football from Mississippi Racially motivated violence against African Americans Spingarn Medal winners United States Army non-commissioned officers