1963 June 12

Mississippi Civil Rights Leader Medgar Evers Shot and Killed


Mississippi civil rights leader Medgar Evers was shot and killed on this day by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the racist White Citizens Council. Evers was the Field Secretary for the NAACP in Mississippi. The assassination occurred just hours after President John F. Kennedy’s nationally televised speech on June 11, 1963, calling for a federal civil rights law. All-white juries twice failed to convict De La Beckwith of the murder. The case was reopened in the 1990s, however, and De La Beckwith was convicted of murder in February 1994.

As a military veteran, Evers is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. A statue in his honor stands outside the public library in Jackson, Mississippi. The airport in Jackson is named in his honor. Medgar Evers College in New York City is named in his honor.

Evers’ brother, Charles Evers, was also a civil rights activist and in 1969 was elected Mayor of Fayette, Mississippi, the first African-American mayor in the state.

Read: Medgar Evers, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Manning Marable, The Autobiography of Medgar Evers: A Hero’s Legacy Revealed Through His Writings, Letters and Speeches (2005)

Learn more about Medgar Evers: http://www.naacp.org/pages/naacp-history-medgar-evers

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