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Medgar Evers, 1925-1963, was one of the first martyrs of the civil rights movement in the United States. He worked for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and was the field secretary for his home state of Mississippi. During his lifetime the Mississippi in which he lived was a place of blatant discrimination where blacks dared not even speak of civil rights, much less actively campaign for them. But Evers dedicated his life to fighting this discrimination and hatred and in the end paid for his convictions with his life by becoming the first major civil rights leader to be assassinated in the 1960s. He was shot in the back on June 12, 1963 after he pulled into his driveway upon returning home late at night from a meeting. He was 37 years old.

In the early 1960s white supremacists in the deep South had a death list for civil rights activists and Evers was high on their list. He and his family endured numerous threats and other violent acts, making them well aware of the danger surrounding Evers because of his activism. Still he persisted in his efforts to integrate public facilities, schools, and restaurants. He organized voter registration drives and demonstrations. He spoke eloquently about the plight of his people and pleaded with the all-white government of Mississippi for some sort of progress in race relations. To those people who opposed such things, he was thought to be a very dangerous man. “We both knew he was going to die,” Myrlie Evers said of her husband in an interview in Esquire magazine. “Medgar didn’t want to be a martyr. But if he had to die to get us that far, he was willing to do it.”

The death of Medgar Evers was a milestone in the hard-fought integration war that rocked the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. While the assassination of such a prominent black figure foreshadowed the violence to come, it also spurred other civil rights leaders – themselves targets of white supremacists – to new fervor. They, in turn, were able to infuse their followers – both black and white – with a new and expanded sense of purpose, one that replaced apprehension with anger. Esquire contributor Maryanne Vollers wrote: “People who lived through those days will tell you that something shifted in their hearts after Medgar Evers died, something that put them beyond fear…. At that point a new motto was born: After Medgar, no more fear.”

Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, was twice tried for the murder of Evers in 1964, but both trials ended in mistrials with all-white juries unable to reach a verdict. A third trial in 1994, before a jury of eight African-American and four white jurors, ended with Beckwith being convicted of first-degree murder. The conviction was based on new evidence proving that he had boasted of the murder at a Klan rally and to others over the three decades after the crime. Beckwith was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and died in 2001.

This is a photograph of Medgar Evers’ tombstone in Arlington National Cemetery. He served his country honorably in World War II, only to be assassinated in his homeland because of his activism on behalf of his fellow black Americans.

Sources: www.africawithin.com and www.wikipedia.com

Camera: Canon Rebel XTi 400D

This photograph is “as is” from the camera, there was no post processing.

Comments

  • kathy s gillentine
    kathy s gillen...over 5 years ago

    excellent Cora, and such history

  • Thank you Kathy.

    – Cora Wandel

  • Stuart Baxter
    Stuart Baxterover 5 years ago

    wonderful tribute and detailed history

  • Thank you Stuart.

    – Cora Wandel

  • John Vandeven
    John Vandevenover 5 years ago

    Fantastic shot and the story is superb…Nice work Cora.

  • Thank you John.

    – Cora Wandel

  • ctheworld
    ctheworldover 5 years ago

    Well done my dear!

  • Thank you.

    – Cora Wandel

  • Anne Gitto
    Anne Gittoover 5 years ago

    Wonderful work & an interesting history lesson. It is such a shame people are so hatefully blind to the fact God created all men equal.

  • Thank you Anne, you made an excellent comment.

    – Cora Wandel

  • Ken Thomas Photography
    Ken Thomas Pho...over 5 years ago

    Brilliant capture!!

  • Thank you Ken.

    – Cora Wandel

  • robmac
    robmacover 5 years ago

    A sad story but one that will live on thank god times are getting better

  • Thank you Rob.

    – Cora Wandel

  • CraigsMom
    CraigsMomover 5 years ago

    Sad story. I saw the movie Mississippi Burning about his assassination. Glad you posted this and his story!

  • Thank you Mary Ann, I appreciate your comment. I knew the story from the movie as well, but only recently when I walked past his grave in Arlington did I realize the irony of his serving our country in combat only to return to his terrible fate in America.

    – Cora Wandel

  • stevebuffington
    stevebuffingtonover 5 years ago

    Thank you for the history lesson. We have come a long way since then. I think that its becoming almost a NO ISSUE. I know, prejudice is not fully dead, but its close to being so in our country. There is some work to do in the rest of the world as far as people accepting and helping their fellow man. To wit, the mass murderer who just received cheers from crowds in the Middle East. There is some work to be done.—Steve

  • Good morning Steve, and thank you for your excellent commentary.

    – Cora Wandel

  • driftindreamin
    driftindreaminover 5 years ago

    Wonderful text Cora Bob Dylan wrote a song on this a few years back and it is very good it tells the story quite well.i love the stones on top we do the same thing with our loved ones

    mike

  • Thank you Mike!

    – Cora Wandel

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