afriHistory Highlight: Medgar Evers

Medgar Wiley Evers, American civil rights activist from Mississippi was murdered by a white supremacist and Klansman in June 1963.

Evers was an American civil rights activist from Mississippi who worked to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi and to enact social justice and voting rights. He was murdered by a white supremacist and Klansman.

The Medgar Evers, NAACP leader in Jackson, Mississippi, memorial service is held on this day. Evers was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C. on June 19. Evers was born in 1925, in Decatur, Mississippi. His civil rights leadership and investigative work made him a target of white supremacists.

A World War II veteran and college graduate, Evers became active in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s. He became a field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Following the 1954 ruling that segregated public schools were unconstitutional, Evers worked to gain admission for African Americans to the state-supported public University of Mississippi.

Evers was murdered by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens' Council, a group formed in 1954 to resist integration of schools and civil rights. As a veteran, Evers was buried with full military honours at Arlington National Cemetery. His murder and the resulting trials inspired civil rights protests, as well as numerous works of art, music and film. All-white juries failed to reach verdicts in the first two trials of Beckwith. He was finally convicted in a new state trial in 1994, based on new evidence.

Myrlie Evers, widow of the activist, became a noted activist in her own right, serving as national chair of the NAACP. His brother Charles Evers was the first African-American mayor elected in Mississippi in the post-Reconstruction era when he won in 1969 in Fayette.

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