Medgar Evers (1925-1963)

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54 years ago, on June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers was was shot to death by white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith outside of his home in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1952, Evers joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). As a field worker for the NAACP, Evers traveled through his home state encouraging poor African Americans to register to vote and recruiting them into the civil rights movement.Due to his high-profile position with the NAACP, Evers became a target for those who opposed racial equality and desegregation. He and his family were subjected to numerous threats and violent actions over the years, including a firebombing of their house in May 1963. After a funeral in Jackson, he was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. In 1964, the first trial of chief suspect Byron De La Beckwith ended with a deadlock by an all-white jury, sparking numerous protests. When a second all-white jury also failed to reach a decision, De La Beckwith was set free. Three decades later, the state of Mississippi reopened the case under pressure from civil rights leaders and Evers’ family. In February 1994, a racially mixed jury in Jackson found Beckwith guilty of murder. The unrepentant white supremacist, aged 73, was sentenced to life imprisonment. Beckwith died in 2001.

 

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