- NAME: Medgar Evers
- OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist
- BIRTH DATE: July 02, 1925
- DEATH DATE: June 12, 1963
- EDUCATION: Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University)
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Decatur, Mississippi
- PLACE OF DEATH: Jackson, Mississippi
- Full Name: Medgar Wiley Evers
- AKA: Medgar Evers
Best Known For
Medgar Evers was a civil rights activist who organized voter-registration efforts, demonstrations and boycotts of companies that practiced discrimination.
Rosa Parks - Mini Biography (4:30)
A short biography of Medgar Evers, a Civil Rights activist who fought for racial integration and worked for the NAACP before being murdered in 1963 at the age of 38.
A short biography of Rosa Parks.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is widely considered the most influential leader of the American civil rights movement. He fought to overturn Jim Crow segregation laws and eliminate social and economic differences between blacks and whites.
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He and his family were subjected to numerous threats and violent actions over the years, including a firebombing of their house in May 1963. At 12:40 a.m. on June 12, 1963, Evers was shot in the back in the driveway of his home in Jackson. He died less than a hour later at a nearby hospital.
Evers was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery,
and the NAACP posthumously awarded him their 1963 Spingarn Medal. The national outrage over Evers's murder increased support for legislation that would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Immediately after Evers's death, the NAACP appointed his brother, Charles, to his position. Charles Evers went on to become a major political figure in the state; in 1969, he was elected the mayor of Fayette, Mississippi, becoming the first African-American mayor of a racially mixed Southern town since the Reconstruction.
A police and FBI investigation of the murder quickly unearthed a prime suspect: Byron De La Beckwith, a white segregationist and founding member of Mississippi's White Citizens Council. Despite mounting evidence against him—a rifle found near the crime scene was registered to Beckwith and had his fingerprints on the scope, and several witnesses placed him in the area—Beckwith denied shooting Evers. He maintained that the gun had been stolen, and produced several witnesses to testify that he was elsewhere on the night of the murder.
The bitter conflict over segregation surrounded the two trials that followed. Beckwith received the support of some of Mississippi's most prominent citizens, including then-Governor Ross Barnett, who appeared at Beckwith's first trial to shake hands with the defendant in full view of the jury. In 1964, Beckwith was set free after two all-white juries deadlocked.
After Beckwith's second trial, Myrlie Evers moved with her children to California, where she earned a degree from Pomona College and was later named to the Los Angeles Commission of Public Works. Convinced that her husband's killer had not been brought to justice, she continued to search for new evidence in the case.
In 1989, the question of Beckwith's guilt was again raised when a Jackson newspaper published accounts of the files of the now-defunct Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, an organization that existed during the 1950s to help raise popular support for the maintenance of segregation. The accounts showed that the commission had helped lawyers for Beckwith screen potential jurors during the first two trials. A review by the Hinds County District Attorney's office found no evidence of such jury tampering, but it did locate a number of new witnesses, including several individuals who would eventually testify that Beckwith had bragged to them about the murder.
In December 1990, Beckwith was again indicted for the murder of Medgar Evers. After a number of appeals, the Mississippi Supreme Court finally ruled in favor of a third trial in April 1993. Ten months later, testimony began before a racially mixed jury of eight blacks and four whites.
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African-Americans have a long history of activism in America, from fighting for the right to vote to pushing for integrated public spaces. Activists like Stokely Carmichael organized freedom rides, James Meredith fought to integrate blacks and whites at the University of Mississippi, and Rosa Parks instigated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. These protests were often legal and nonviolent, and made a powerful impact on civil rights in the United States. With the help of activists like these—and many others—the country slowly worked to acknowledge the basic rights and contributions of African-Americans. Activists outisde of the U.S. include Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, who have fought against apartheid in South Africa. Learn more about the many black activists who fought against the odds in order to achieve equality.
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"Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love." Stated by legendary civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., these words represent a basic human philosophy to which black history's greatest leaders have passionately subscribed. Learn more about the world's most revered civil rights activists, known for their fight against social injustices and lasting impact on the lives of black citizens, including Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
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