The Civil Rights Legacy of Medgar Evers

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/4700724/4700725" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript

On June 12, 1963, civil rights leader Medgar Evers was shot dead in the driveway of his Mississippi home. The assassination made Evers the first in a line of civil rights leaders to be cut down in the 1960s, and his murder prompted President Kennedy to ask Congress for a civil rights bill, which was signed into law by President Johnson the next year.

ED GORDON, host:

On June 12th, 1963, civil rights leader Medgar Evers was shot dead in the driveway of his Mississippi home. The assassination made Evers the first in a line of civil rights leaders to be cut down in the 1960s. His murder prompted President John F. Kennedy to ask Congress for a civil rights bill, which was signed into law by Lyndon Johnson the next year. But while his death has become legendary, his life of activism and his accomplishments have been somewhat overlooked, so says his widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams.

Mrs. MYRLIE EVERS-WILLIAMS (Widow of Slain Civil Rights Leader Medgar Evers): Every time I pick up a book about civil rights and civil rights leaders, and I will see Medgar has simply a sentence, I found that rather offensive as his widow and one who knew what he went through and the sacrifices he made.

GORDON: Indeed, in life Medgar Evers contributed a great deal to the civil rights movement, especially in his home state of Mississippi. In the face of tremendous pressure, Evers established several chapters of the NAACP along the delta. He was also the first to integrate what was then one of the most segregated institutions in the South, the University of Mississippi. And perhaps because of Evers' pioneering efforts in that state, today Mississippi has more African-American elected officials than any other state in the country.

Mrs. EVERS-WILLIAMS: I hope that people will be able to see him not only as a visionary, but someone who was a strategist as well, and be able to follow some of his actions and thinking and apply it to today.

GORDON: Medgar Evers died 42 years ago yesterday. Myrlie Evers-Williams has written a new book about her husband's life. We'll talk with her about it later in the week.

Copyright © 2005 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.