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Medgar Evers was an American civil rights activist from Mississippi who actively fought for voting rights, segregation, and boycotts of businesses that practiced discrimination.
Evers became the first state field secretary of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in Mississippi. He also worked for crimes related to black discrimination. He was assassinated on June 12, 1963, outside his house in Jackson, Mississippi.
- Medgar Wiley Evers was born on July 2, 1925, in Decatur, Mississippi. He was the third child of Jesse and James Evers. He had four siblings, including his brother Charles Evers, the first African-American mayor in the state of Mississippi during the post-Reconstruction era. His father worked at a sawmill and the Evers family owned a small farm.
- Evers was drafted into the United States Army in 1943. He fought in both France and Germany during World War II. He was was honorably discharged as a sergeant after the war.
- Evers attended Alcorn College (now Alcorn State University) in 1948. The institution is known as a historically black college in Lorman, Mississippi.
- Evers majored in business administration and earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1952.
- During his senior year, Evers married his classmate, Myrlie Beasley, on December 24, 1951. The couple had three children: Darrell Kenyatta, Reena Denise, and James Van Dyke Evers.
ACTIVISM AND NAACP
- The Evers family moved to Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Medgar worked as a salesman for T. R. M. (Howard’s Magnolia Mutual Life Insurance Company).
- Evers assisted in the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) boycott of gasoline stations that discriminated blacks regarding the usage of restrooms. Medgar and his brother, Charles Evers, also actively attended the organization’s annual conferences in Mound Bayou between 1952 and 1954.
- Evers applied to the University of Mississippi Law School in February 1954. However, his application was rejected because of his race. He submitted his case to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and volunteered to help the organization regarding the lawsuit.
- By May 1954, the Brown v. Board of Education case after the ruling of the supreme court was handed down. This signified the legal end to segregation of schools.
- Evers was promoted in NAACP as the first field secretary for the state of Mississippi. He travelled around the state to recruit new members and to set up new local chapters of the organization. He also organized efforts for voting rights, as well as boycotts of businesses that practiced discrimination.
- Evers, being a prominent civil rights activist, became a target of white supremacists. He actively fought against racial discrimination as well as how social justice was being distributed amongst the African Americans. His investigations included the lynching of fourteen year old Emmett Till in 1955. Till was allegedly killed for talking to a white woman.
- Evers also supported his fellow civil rights activist, Clyde Kennard, when he was convicted due to theft charges in 1960.
- Evers was subjected to threats due to his position as a civil rights leader, including a firebombing incident where a Molotov cocktail was thrown into his home on May 29, 1963.
- On June 12, 1963, at 12:40 am, Evers was shot in the back from an Enfield 1917 rifle after he pulled into his driveway. He died at the hospital less than an hour later.
- Evers’ death was mourned nationally. After his assassination, a procession was led in honor of his legacy. The procession leaders included other civil rights leaders like Allen Johnson and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
- Evers received full military honors and was buried on June 19 in Arlington National Cemetery.
- As per the FBI’s investigation, Byron De La Beckwith was arrested on June 21, 1963, for Evers’ murder. De La Beckwith was a salesman and a white segregationist. De La Beckwith was one of the founding members of the White Citizens’ Council.
- Evidence pointing to De La Beckwith included a rifle found near the crime scene. The rifle was registered to De La Beckwith and had his fingerprints on it. He claimed that the rifle was stolen from him.
- De La Beckwith was supported by various prominent Mississippians, including then governor Ross Barnett. Two trials occurred, but he was eventually released in 1964 after an all-white jury twice deadlocked the case.
- In 1989, De La Beckwith was questioned again when accounts showed that there had been tampering by the commission. The commission allegedly helped lawyers for De La Beckwith with screening jurors. The tampering was not proven but led to numerous new witnesses, including some individuals who testified against De La Beckwith. The latter bragged about the murder to the witnesses.
- In 1993, a third trial was ruled by the Supreme Court. De La Beckwith was prosecuted in 1994, thirty years later.
- De La Beckwith appealed the case and eventually died in prison in January, 2001, at age 80.
- Myrlie Evers created the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute in Jackson, Mississippi.
- City University, New York, established the Medgar Evers College in 1969.
- USNS Medgar Evers, a U.S. Navy vessel, was bestowed after Evers’ name.
- In 2017, the Medgar and Myrlie Evers House was named as a National Historic Landmark.
- Songs inspired by Evers have also been produced, such as Bob Dylan’s “Only a Pawn in Their Game”, Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam”, Phil Ochs’ “Another Country” and “Too Many Martyrs”, and Wadada Leo Smith’s “Medgar Evers: A Love-Voice of a Thousand Years’ Journey for Liberty and Justice”.
- Films have also been inspired by Evers, such as Ghosts of Mississippi (1996) presenting the story of De La Beckwith’s trial.
Medgar Evers Worksheets
This bundle contains 11 ready-to-use Medgar Evers Worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about Sally Kristen Ride who was an American physicist and astronaut. Sally became the first American woman in space in 1983.
Download includes the following worksheets:
- Medgar Evers Facts
- Medgar Evers Word Search
- Medgar Evers Fact File
- Civil Rights Activists
- Decode the Quote
- Attributes in a Balloon
- A Letter to Mr. Evers
- Medgar Evers’ Legacy
- Medgar Evers Acrostic
- My Advocacy
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Link will appear as Medgar Evers Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 22, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
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