Medgar Evers was an American civil rights activist in Mississippi, the state’s field secretary for the NAACP, and a World War II veteran who had served in the United States Army. He worked to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi, end the segregation of public facilities, and expand opportunities for African Americans, which included the enforcement of voting rights.
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. He was instrumental in getting witnesses and evidence for the Emmett Till murder case, which brought national attention to the plight of African Americans in the South.
On June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers was killed, in his own driveway, by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens’ Council in Jackson, Mississippi. As a veteran, Evers was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. His murder and the resulting trials inspired civil rights protests; his life and these events inspired numerous works of art, music, and film. All-white juries failed to reach verdicts in the first two trials of Beckwith in the 1960s.
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. At the age of 73, Beckwith was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Medgar’s widow, Myrlie Evers, became a noted activist in her own right, serving as national chair of the NAACP. His brother Charles Evers was the first African American to be elected as mayor of a city in Mississippi in the post-Reconstruction era; he won the office in 1969 in Fayette. In 2017, President Barack Obama designated Evers’ home a national historic landmark
In 1996, there was a movie produced called “The Ghost of Mississippi”, written by Lewis Colick and directed by Rob Reiner. This movie was based on the murder of Medgar Evers starring Whoopi Goldberg, Alec Baldwin, and James Woods.