Sunday, February 27, 2005

Billie Highlights Medgar Evers for Black History Month

Billie: I want to highlight Medgar Evers and that's partly because of all the years after his murder it took for justice to be done. But it's also because Evers was very important to the civil rights movement.

On July 2, 1925, he was born in Decatur, Mississippi and he would work in his home state for the cause of equality. After graduating college, he would attempt to enter law school (University of Missippi Law School) but be refused because of his skin color. He had already been volunteering time to the NAACP (while he made a living selling insurance) but following the refusal of the University of Missippi Law School, the NAACP offered him the job of being the state field secretary in Missippi.

Now he worked on issues like voter registration and boycotts. And his actions led to attacks and threats. In 1963, his home was firebombed two months before he was shot and killed in his own driveway, shot in the back (June 12, 1963).

Evers' legacy inspired others and helped garner attention and aid the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On a personal level, his legacy inspired his brother, Charles Evers, to run successfully for mayor and inspired his widow Myrlie Evers-Williams in her long for justice as well as to serve on the NAACP executive committee.

Myrlie Evers-Williams deserves special praise because her first husband was killed in 1963 and she would fight and struggle to see that justice was done. Byron De La Beckwith was cleared of the killing in two trials in 1964. In February 1994, De La Beckwith would finally be convicted of the murder of Medgar Evers.

Democracy Now! has an interview with Myrlie Evers-Williams that you can listen to or watch.
["Myrlie Evers-Williams on the Murder of Her Husband Civil Rights Leader Medgar Evers Who Died 40 Years Ago Today."]