Civil rights activist. Born July 2, 1925, in Decatur, Mississippi. After growing up in a Mississippi farming family, Evers enlisted in the United States Army in 1943. He fought in both France and Germany during World War II before receiving an honorable discharge in 1946. In 1948, he entered Alcorn Agricutural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University) in Lorman, Mississippi. During his senior year, Evers married a fellow student, Myrlie Beasley; they later had three children: Darrell, Reena, and James. Upon graduation from college in 1952, Evers moved to Philadelphia, Mississippi, where he began working as an insurance salesman. He and his older brother, Charles Evers, also worked on behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), organizing local affiliates in Philadelphia.
In 1954, the year of the momentous Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, which purportedly ended segregation of schools, Medgar quit the insurance business; he subsequently applied and was denied admission to the University of Mississippi Law School. His unsuccessful effort to integrate the state’s oldest public educational institution attracted the attention of the NAACP’s national office. Later that year, Evers moved to the state capital of Jackson and became the first state field secretary of the NAACP in Mississippi. As state field secretary, Evers recruited members throughout Mississippi and organized voter-registration efforts, demonstrations, and economic boycotts of white-owned companies that practiced discrimination. He also worked to investigate crimes perpetrated against blacks, most notably the lynching of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy who had allegedly been killed for talking to a white woman.
As early as 1955, Evers’ activism made him the most visible civil rights leader in the state of Missisippi. As a result, he and his family were subjected to numerous threats and violent actions...
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