July 2, 1925: Happy Birthday to the Brave Civil Rights Activist, Medgar Evers

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BY WALTER OPINDE

On this day, 2nd July, 1925, Medgar Evers, an African-American civil rights activist from Mississippi, who worked day and night to overturn the prevalent racial segregation at the University of Mississippi was born in Decatur, Mississippi. Medgar was the third child among five children, including his famous elder brother- Charles Evers of Jesse (Wright), and James Evers. The Evers family owned a small farm, and James also worked at a local sawmill. In order to attend the segregated schools and earn his high school diploma, Evers walked more than twelve miles each day.

Also known to have worked for the enactment of voting rights and social justice, Medgar Evers organized demonstrations, supported voter-registration efforts and boycotts of companies or institutions that practiced racial discrimination. Unfortunately, on 12th June, 1963, Medgar was assassinated outside of his home in Jackson, Mississippi. His assassin was a white supremacist, who was also a Klansman. In his grand commemoration, President Barack Obama, in 2017, designated Evers’ home as a national historic landmark.

Medgar Evers served in the U.S. Army during the World War II, between 1943 and 1945. Later, in June, 1944, he was commissioned to the European Theater and fought in the Battle of Normandy. After the end of the war, Medgar was honorably discharged as a sergeant. By 1948, Evers enrolled at Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College, a historically black college, which is today known as the Alcorn State University. He majored in Business Administration in his studies. Medgar competed and/or participated in the college debate, track teams, football, college choir, and also served as a junior class president. He later, in 1952, earned his Bachelor of Arts.

As a college graduate and a World War II veteran, Medgar became an active participant and member of the Civil Rights Movement by the 1950s. He became the Field Secretary for the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of 1954 in the case of Brown vs. Board of Education that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, Medgar worked hard to be admitted as an African-Americans to the University of Mississippi, a state-supported public university. He also championed the fights for voting rights and eradication of racial registration, access to public facilities, equal economic opportunities, alongside other demands for the changes within the segregated society.

Unfortunately, before he could successfully enjoy the fruits of his civil rights efforts and fights, Evers Medgar was assassinated by Byron De La Beckwith, who was a member of a group formed in 1954 to resist the integration of schools and civil rights activity, the “White Citizens’ Council”. As a veteran, Medgar was accorded with the full military honors during his burial at the Arlington National Cemetery. His murder and the consequential trials triggered a series of civil rights protests and riots, which were later followed by numerous works of art, films, and music reiterating his hard work and achievements in the fights for civil rights for the black community.

Medgar’s widow, Myrlie Evers, later became a renowned civil rights activist, serving as the national chair lady of the NAACP. His brother, Charles Evers, became the first Black mayor elected in Mississippi just during the post-Reconstruction era in 1969.

Read more of the story via: http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/medgar-evers

Sources

Evers-Williams, Myrlie; Marable, Manning (2005). The Autobiography of Medgar Evers: A Hero’s Life and Legacy Revealed Through His Writings, Letters, and Speeches. Basic Civitas Books.

Williams, Reggie. (2005, July 2). Remembering Medgar, Afro King – American Red Star, p. A.1. The Black Newspapers.

1 Comment

  • LaFlorya Young Rombaut July 2, 2018 - 3:35 pm Reply

    I was a high school student and member of the school band at the time that Medgar was at Alcorn. Whenever we traveled with the football team Medgar would make sure that I was properly chaperoned by acting as my “big brother’! He always made certain that I was safe. I was outside the United States when he was was killed but will always remember him as my “big brother.

    I was pleased to learn that he and his wife spent time in my home town, Mound Bayou and that he collaborated with Dr. Howard whom I also knew and worked with at the Taborian Hospital in Mound Bayou.

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