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Medgar Wiley EversResearch via: www.wikipedia.org Student Name: Kennedy Alexis Date: January 21st, 2011 MECPS, Mr. Jiang
Who is Medgar Wiley Evers? • Was an African American civil rights activist from Mississippi who was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery after being assassinated by Ku Klux Klan member Byron De La Beckwith. Evers' life, his murder, and the resulting trials inspired protests as well as numerous works including music and film.
His life and family • Medgar Evers was born July 2, 1925 in Decatur, Mississippi, the son of James Evers, who was the owner of a small farm and a sawmill worker. He was married to Medgar's mother, named Jessie. Evers was the third of five children, after Charles and Elizabeth. A daughter named Ruth was the youngest. The family was rounded out by Eva Lee and Gene (who were Jessie’s children from a prior marriage). Determined to get the education he deserved after the lynchings of family friends, Evers walked twelve miles to and from school to earn his high school diploma. In 1943 he was inducted into the army along with his older brother Charlie. Evers fought in France and in the European Theatre of WWII. He was honorably discharged in 1945 as a Sergeant.
His activism and belief • Medgar moved to Mississippi where T. R. M. Howard had hired him to sell insurance for his Magnolia Mutual Life Insurance Company. Howard was also the president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL), a civil rights and pro self-help organization. Involvement in the RCNL gave Evers crucial training in activism. He helped to organize the RCNL's boycott of service stations that denied blacks use of their restrooms. The boycotters distributed bumper stickers with the slogan "Don't Buy Gas Where You Can't Use the Restroom." Along with his brother, Charles Evers, Medgar also attended the RCNL's annual conferences in Mound Bayou between 1952 and 1954 which drew crowds of ten thousand or more.
His role in NAACP • On November 24, 1954, Evers was appointed Mississippi’s first field secretary. President of the NAACP Mississippi State Conference and civil rights activist, E.J. Stringer, helped him gain this position. • Evers was involved in a boycott campaign against white merchants and was instrumental in eventually desegregating the University of Mississippi when that institution was finally forced to enroll James Meredith in 1962. • The admission of Meredith led to a riot on campus that left two people dead. Evers’ involvement and investigative work brought about hatred in many white supremacists. In the weeks leading up to his death, Evers found himself even more of a target. His public investigations into the murder of Emmett Till and his vocal support of Clyde Kennard made him a prominent black leader and therefore vulnerable to attack.
Assassination • On June 12, 1963, a day after President John F. Kennedy's speech on national television in support of civil rights, Evers pulled into his driveway just after returning from a meeting with NAACP lawyers. 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 Enfield 1917 .303 rifle that ricocheted into his Jackson, Mississippi home. He staggered 9 meters (30 feet) before collapsing. He died at a local hospital 50 minutes later.
Schools named in his honor • Medgar Evers College Preparatory School • Medgar Evers College