During this week in history, Charles Evers became the first Black mayor of a town in Mississippi since Reconstruction.
During the period following the Civil War, Black people were installed or elected to a number of political offices. When Reconstruction ended, it was hard for Black politicians to get a position.
Charles Evers, the brother of activist Medgar Evers, was involved heavily in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. A member and speaker for different groups and conferences, he would become head of the Mississippi NAACP following Medgar’s death in 1963. His taking of the position was met with some pushback, but he would become a significant figure before the end of the decade.
Among various voting liberties added, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 opened the doors for non-White people to run for office. Evers took the opportunity and campaigned in Fayette, a city nearing 1,725 citizens and was heavily Black. His opponent was the White mayor R.G. Allen.
Charles Evers ran as a Republican while the Southern Strategy was in play. His election to the mayorship was a perfect storm for its time.
First, his work towards rights for Black people and his stature in the NAACP endeared him to the large Black populace. In addition, the Voting Rights Act gave Black people more freedom at the booth. Finally, Fayette had a mayor who was antagonistic towards the largely Black populace.
Evers would go on to defeat Allen 386-225 in a low turnout on May 13, 1969. He continued running as mayor and was eventually defeated by Kennie Middleton in 1981. Evers became mayor of Fayette again in 1985, but once again lost to Middleton in 1989. During his time as mayor he backed Republican presidents, significantly Ronald Reagan’s election run.
Evers became mayor of Fayette again in 1985, but once again lost to Middleton in 1989. During his time as mayor he backed Republican presidents, significantly Ronald Reagan’s election run.
Today Charles Evers is still involved in the Republican Party, most recently showing support for the eventual President Donald Trump. As for Fayette, demographics haven’t changed much but the town has grown and dropped in population since 1969. As of 2015, the town had close to 1,580 citizens with around 97-percent being Black.
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