Medgar Evers

                  Courtesy: The Mississippi Writers Page

 

Known today more for his struggles for civil rights in Mississippi and untimely death at the hands of an assassin than for his writings, Medgar Evers nevertheless left behind

an impressive record of achievement.

Medgar Wiley Evers was born July 2, 1925, near Decatur, Mississippi, and attended school there until he was inducted into the army in 1943. After serving in Normandy, he attended Alcorn College (now Alcorn State University), majoring in business administration. While at Alcorn, he was a member of the debate team, the college choir, and the football and track teams. He also held several student offices and was editor of the campus newspaper for two years and the annual publication for one year. In recognition of his accomplishments at Alcorn, he was listed in Who’s Who in American Colleges.

At Alcorn, he met Myrlie Beasley, of Vicksburg. The next year they were married (December 24, 1951). He received his Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Degree the next semester and they moved to Mound Bayou, Mississippi, during which time Evers began to establish local chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) throughout the Delta and organizing boycotts of gasoline stations that refused to allow blacks to use their restrooms.

He worked in Mound Bayou as an insurance agent until 1954 – the year a Supreme Court decision ruled school segregation unconstitutional.  Despite the court’s ruling, Evers applied for, and was denied admission to the University of Mississippi Law School, but his attempt to integrate the state’s oldest public university attracted the attention of the NAACP’s national office. That same year he was appointed as the NAACP Mississippi’s first field secretary.

Evers and his wife moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where they worked together to set up the NAACP office.  He began investigating violent crimes committed against blacks and sought ways to prevent them.  His boycott of Jackson merchants in the early 1960s attracted national attention, and his efforts to have James Meredith admitted to the University of Mississippi in 1962brought much-needed federal help for which he had been soliciting. 

Meredith was admitted to Ole Mississippi University, a major step in securing civil rights in the state, but an ensuing riot on campus left four people dead.  Evers involvement in this and other activities increased the hatred many people felt towards him.  Some time later, he was fatally shot giving a speech about the cause he spent so much of his life fighting for.

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07/14/2009 01:01 AM -0500