MEDGAR EVERS SHOT AND KILLED IN MISSISSIPPI 50 YEARS AGO TODAY
Jackson, Mississippi (JFK+50) Medgar Evers*, President of the Mississippi State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was shot and killed 50 years ago today, June 12, 1963.
*Medgar Wiley Evers (1925-1963) was born in Decatur, Mississippi. He served in the US Army during WWII and graduated from Alcorn A&M College in 1952. He became Field Secretary of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP in 1954.
Medgar Evers Statue
Photo by Richard apple (2013)
In his role as NAACP Field Secretary, Medgar Evers had the responsibility of...
"registering blacks to vote, fighting the white store owners who...discriminated against blacks, and ending the barriers that denied blacks in Mississippi equality in education."
Medgar Evers, having attended a long meeting on Tuesday, June 11th, pulled into the driveway of his home in Jackson just after midnight on Wednesday, June 12, 1963.
As he was carrying some NAACP T Shirts which read "JIM CROW MUST GO," he was shot in the back with an ENFIELD 1917 rifle. The bullet entered just below the right shoulder blade, passed through his body and entered his home.
Medgar's wife, Myrtle, and their children hit the floor at the sound of the shot.
To her horror, Myrtle Evers opened her front door only to find her husband dying at her feet. He had crawled from the driveway to the front door.
Myrtle Evers later said...
"I don't think I ever hated as much in my life as I did at that moment."
Medgar Evers was rushed to University Hospital in Jackson where he was pronounced dead less than an hour after the shooting.
A large demonstration followed in Jackson resulting in the arrest of 158 blacks.
The day after her husband was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Myrtle Evers and her children were invited to the White House where they met President John F. Kennedy.
Byron De La Beckwith was arrested on June 21, 1963 and charged with the murder of Medgar Evers but the jury ended up deadlocked in determining his guilt.
In 1994, however, on newly discovered evidence including the exhumation of the body of Medgar Evers, Byron De La Beckwith was convicted and served 7 years in prison before his death at the age of 80.
"The assassination of Medgar Evers rocked a nation already reeling from the power and expanse of the civil rights movement."
"We Shall Overcome," by Herb Boyd, Sourcebooks, Inc, Naperville, Illinois, 2004.
Folk singer/songwriter BOB DYLAN memorialized Medgar Evers in his song "Only a Pawn in Their Game."
"Today Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet he caught
They lowered him down as a king
But when the shadowy sun sets on the one
That fired the gun.
He'll see by his grave
On the stone that remains
Carved next to his name
His epitaph plain
Only a pawn in their game."
Grave of Medgar Evers
Arlington National Cemetery
Photo by Willjay (2008)