“Before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took over, as the voice, conscience and vehicle of the Civil Rights Movement, there was Medgar Evers, whose civil rights activism in Mississippi began with the death of Emmett Till in 1955.”
Medgar Evers was a civil rights hero who fought for justice in the racially charged south as the NAACP’s first field representative in Mississippi. This made him one of the most visible people of the Civil Rights movement causing him and his family to be subjected to numerous threats. Evers was shot and killed by Byron De La Beckwith June 12, 1963 outside of his home.
Although Beckwith escaped conviction, the unearthing of new evidence decades later resulted in his retrial and imprisonment.
Born in 1925 to a farming family in Mississippi, Evers fought during World War II in France and Germany and was honorably discharged in 1946. Upon discharge he enrolled in Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University) which is located in Lorman, Mississippi.
He met Myrlie Beasley who was also a student his senior year and they had three children.
Medgar Evers was denied admission to the University of Mississippi Law School in 1954, but was instrumental in the eventual desegregation of “Ole Miss” in 1962.
“In 1954, the year of the momentous Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, which purportedly ended segregation of schools, Medgar quit the insurance business; he subsequently applied and was denied admission to the University of Mississippi Law School. His unsuccessful effort to integrate the state’s oldest public educational institution attracted the attention of the NAACP’s national office. Later that year, Evers moved to the state capital of Jackson and became the first state field secretary of the NAACP in Mississippi.”