Medgar Wiley Evers
(July 2, 1925 – June 12, 1963) was an American civil rights activist in Mississippi and the state's field secretary of the NAACP. He worked to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi, to end segregation of public facilities, and to expand opportunities for African Americans, including enforcement of voting rights. He was assassinated by a white supremacist and Klansman.
A World War II veteran and college graduate, Evers became active in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s. Following the 1954 ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated public schools were unconstitutional, Evers challenged the segregation of the state-supported public University of Mississippi, applying to law school there. He also worked for voting rights, economic opportunity, access to public facilities, and other changes in the segregated society.
Evers was murdered in 1963 by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens' Council. This group was formed in 1954 to resist the integration of schools and civil rights activism. 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. He was convicted in 1994 in a new state trial based on new evidence.
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 mayor elected in Mississippi in the post-Reconstruction era when he won in 1969 in Fayette.