Medgar Wiley Evers
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights giant Medgar Wiley Evers on June 12, 1963. Only 37 when he was slain in the driveway of his home in Jackson, MS, Evers accomplished much in his short life. After becoming the NAACP’S first field secretary in Mississippi, he led the investigation of the 1955 lynching of Chicago teenager Emmett Till in Mississippi, was involved with James Meredith’s efforts to become the first African-American student to enroll in the racially segregated University of Mississippi, established new local NAACP chapters, led voter registration drives and organized boycotts and protests to desegregate public parks, primary schools, beaches and even the Mississippi State Fair. The contributions of Medgar Wiley Evers continue to have an indelible mark on our lives today.
A World War II United States Army veteran who participated in the Normandy landings in June 1944, Evers was buried with full military honors on June 19, 1963 at Arlington National Cemetery, where a crowd of more than 3,000 were in attendance. Evers’ legacy not only lived on in songs by Bob Dylan and Nina Simone and cinematic depictions in the 1996 film Ghosts of Mississippi and the 2016 James Baldwin documentary I Am Not Your Negro, but as the namesake of Medgar Evers College, a four-year college whose foundation is rooted in social justice and mantra reflects everything Medgar Wiley Evers represented: Courage. Strength. Fortitude.