Medgar Evers was born in Decatur, Mississippi in 1925 to a family of farmers. At the age of 18 Evers was drafted into the U.S. Army. His stint in the army took him to France and Germany fighting in World War II. In 1946, Evers received an honorable discharge from the Army and he returned home to Mississippi. In 1948, he began pursuing higher education at Alcorn College which is now Alcorn State University. As a senior at Alcorn College, Evers met and married Myrlie Beasley, and they produced three children during their marriage. Evers graduated from college in 1952 and began working as an insurance salesman. He also became active with the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) which was a civil rights organization. While working with the RCNL, Evers organized a boycott of a local gas station that refused to let blacks use their restrooms.
Evers also began working with the NAACP helping to enhance local participation and partnerships. In 1954, Evers applied for admission into the University of Mississippi Law School, but his entry was rejected which led to a lawsuit against the school. Thurgood Marshall served as the lead attorney in the lawsuit against the school. Marshall, Evers, and the NAACP lost the lawsuit against the Law School, but it was another blow thrown in the fight against educational discrimination. In May of 1954, the decision in the Brown v. Board of Education lawsuit came down ending the legal practice of discrimination in schools. Evers also became the first field secretary for the NAACP in Mississippi in 1954. He and his family moved to Jackson, Mississippi because of his work with the NAACP. His position required him to travel to Mississippi to recruit new members and organize voter–registration.
Evers put the skills he learned with the RCNL to good use by organizing many boycotts of businesses that refused its black customers. By 1955, Evers was a well-known, well-respected civil rights activist in Mississippi. He led the charge against the Mississippi legal system because of the constant discrimination against its black citizens. He challenged the Mississippi police department to reinvestigate the murder of Emmitt Till in 1955 and protested the conviction of Clyde Kennard in 1960. The more Evers worked the more popular he became which made him a target of the local whites who hated him. He and his family faced numerous threats and violent actions by the whites who hated him. In 1963, his home was bombed by terrorists who disagreed with his ideas.
On June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers was shot in his back and later died at the hospital. Evers was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. Later that year, the NAACP awarded him with their Spingarn Award. The attention the Evers murder received helped the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Byron De La Beckwith was named as the lead suspect in the Evers murder because all of the evidence supported his guilt. Beckwith was a well-known racist and he received support from other racist whites including Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett. In 1964, Beckwith was found not guilty and set free of all charges in two different trials. Myrlie Evers moved to California after the trial but she never gave up working to convict Beckwith of his killing of Medgar Evers. Her persistence paid off 31 years later when Beckwith was finally charged with the murder of Medgar Evers in 1994. Medgar Evers left a lasting impression on Mississippi, the Civil Rights movement, and blacks in the south. Mr. Evers showed the courage to stand and fight oppression even in the face of death. He dedicated his life to fighting injustices and helping blacks in the south live free of racism. Mr. Evers's legacy will live forever in American lore. Mr. Medgar Evers, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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