Today is the 57th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers. He was killed on June 12, 1963 by Byron De La Beckwith, a Ku Klux Klan member, in the driveway of his home. Evers’ wife Myrlie and their children were inside of their home at the time.
“On June 12, 1963, Evers pulled into his driveway after returning from an integration meeting where he had conferred with NAACP lawyers. Emerging from his car and carrying NAACP T-shirts that stated, “Jim Crow Must Go”, Evers was struck in the back with a bullet that ricocheted into his home. He staggered 30 feet before collapsing, dying at the local hospital 50 minutes later. Evers was murdered just hours after President John F. Kennedy’s speech on national television in support of civil rights.”NAACP History: Medgar Evers
Medgar Evers worked very hard during the Civil Rights Movement trying to establish equal rights for Black Americans. He was president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) and the first field officer for the NAACP Mississippi chapter.
Evers work as an activist was instrumental in desegregating the University of Mississippi in 1962. This was when U.S. Air Force veteran James Meredith became the first Black man to attend the university.
I remember my own father telling me stories about this time period when he was in the United States Army. My father’s unit was sent to Oxford, Mississippi to assist in Meredith’s safety at the school.
“He was targeted because of his activism to end Jim Crow, expand educational opportunities for Black children, and protect voting rights, among other achievements. As the first state field secretary of the NAACP in Mississippi, he tirelessly led marches, prayer vigils, voter registration drives and boycotts, and persistently appealed to Black and white people to work together for a peaceful solution to social problems. Backed by federal troops, he led efforts to help James Meredith successfully integrate the University of Mississippi in 1962.”Nancy Abudu, Deputy Legal Director Voting Rights
When I was a young girl, I remember learning about Medgar Evers’ work with the Civil Rights Movement and his tragic death. Even as a young person, I found his murder heartbreaking and very troubling.
It bothered me that he was killed because he was a Black man and he was trying to help Black people have equal rights just like their white counterparts. I never forgot his name or his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.
In memory of her father, Reena Evers shared the following statement today:
“57 years ago today I lost my Daddy, Medgar Wiley Evers. He was murdered by a white supremacist after coming home from doing his life’s work of seeking justice and equality for African Americans across Mississippi and the United States. My dad taught us to be strong, to stand up for what is right and just, and to never stop fighting for justice and equality in this world.
My dad knew his work was dangerous, and knew that everyday he put his life on the line. I will never forget what he said a couple of nights before he was shot, “I love my wife, and I love my children. I would give my life gladly that they could be free. I am doing this for them and for all the other women and children,” I was so proud of him.
Today, as we are faced with many of the same injustices my father fought and died for, from police brutality to the eradication of voting rights, his spirit is calling me more than ever, and telling me that his work is not done. Let us remember my father not as a martyr but as our guiding light for change in this country, let us continue his legacy of fighting for change, for justice, for equality, and let us honor him but recommitting ourselves to that mission.”
Let us not forget the life of Medgar Evers and the great contributions he made for Black Americans. #SayHisName
Click here to learn more about Medgar Evers and the Medgar & Myrlie Evers Institute.
I hope you have a peaceful and reflective weekend, friends. xoxo
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All photographs are courtesy of and used with permission from the Medgar & Myrlie Evers Institute.