The Autobiography of Medgar Evers

The Autobiography of Medgar Evers


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The accused killer, a white supremacist named Byron De La Beckwith, stood trial twice in the 1960s.

Both cases ended in mistrials because the all-white juries could not reach a verdict. Beckwith was

convicted in a third trial in 1994, and sentenced to life in prison. When Evers died in 1963, only 28,000

 blacks were registered voters. By 1971, there were 250,000. By 1982, there were over 500,000.  



Books by Manning Marable

 Black Liberation in Conservative America  / Living Black History  / How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America

Race, Reform, and Rebellion  /  W.E.B. Du Bois: Black Radical Democrat  /  Race, Reform, and Rebellion

The Great Wells of Democracy  /  Afro-Cuban Voices: On Race and Identity in Contemporary Cuba

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The Autobiography of Medgar Evers

A Hero’s Life and Legacy Revealed Through His Writings, Letters, and Speeches 2006

By Myrlie Evers-Williams and Manning Marable

In an era filled with charismatic leaders, Evers (1925–1963) came to national attention primarily as the victim of “the first political assassination of a major leader of the modern Black Freedom Movement.” As NAACP field secretary in Mississippi, Evers recruited NAACP members, desegregated schools, registered voters and organized boycotts. The work was usually undramatic, but always perilous. Evers’s widow and historian Marable seek to redress Evers’s relative absence from the historical record. But more than half of these 89 documents (from the years 1954–1963) are mundane monthly reports to or business correspondence with the NAACP. Ten Evers speeches are included along with eight newspaper articles, four press releases, a telegram to Eisenhower and one to Kennedy, an NAACP newsletter, a “text fragment,” a posthumous Life interview. There’s no clue to the principle of selection. With the exception of two very brief notes to his family, there is no personal correspondence. This monument is a tomb ready for excavation by historians of the Civil Rights movement, but it’s not for the ordinary reader looking for an autobiography of Medgar Evers. It reveals the quotidian work rather than the indomitable man.—Publisher’s Weekly

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Evers-Williams, widow of Medgar Evers, the Mississippi civil-rights activist and head of the state’s NAACP (who was slain in 1963), draws on her husband’s personal papers to present a portrait of a man who understood the sacrifices he might be required to make for the cause he believed in. Evers’ memoranda, transcribed public speeches, and personal notes present the picture of a servant-leader, a man who worried about the welfare of families, participated in boycotts and protests, and strategized about the most effective means of securing voting rights. His monthly reports included a chronicle of the escalating violence in reaction to the NAACP’s efforts to recruit members. In an Ebony magazine essay, Evers explained why he continued to live and struggle in the racial cauldron of Mississippi. The collection includes correspondence with luminaries such as Martin Luther King Jr and Roy Wilkins, but is most revealing of the man who is less celebrated yet helped to lay the groundwork for the modern civil rights movement.—Vernon Ford, Booklist

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The Ballad of Medgar Evers (SNCC Freedom Singers, Chicago 20 / Only a pawn in their game (Bob Dylan)

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Medgar Evers was born July 2, 1925 in Decatur, Mississippi, the son of James Evers, who was the owner of a small farm and a sawmill worker, and a devout woman named Jessie. James, as well as Medgar’s maternal great-grandfather Joseph Evers, were two men that also fought for their freedom. Evers was the third of five children, after Charles and Elizabeth. A daughter named Ruth was the youngest. The family was rounded out by Eva Lee and Gene (who were Jessie’s children from a prior marriage). Determined to get the education he deserved after the lynching of a family friend, Evers walked twelve miles to and from school to earn his high school diploma. In 1943 he was inducted into the army along with his older brother Charlie. Evers fought in France, the European Theatre of WWII and was honorably discharged in 1945 as a Sergeant. In 1946, Evers, along with his brother and four friends, returned to his hometown.

In 1948, Evers enrolled at Alcorn College (now Alcorn State University), majoring in business administration. In college, he was on the debate team, played football and ran track, sang in the school choir and served as president of his junior class. It was here that he was listed in Who’s Who in American Colleges for his many accomplishments.

He married classmate Myrlie Beasley on December 24, 1951, and received his BA degree the following year. Myrlie Beasley and Medgar Evers had three children, two boys and a girl, before his murder. In 2001, their oldest son, Darrell Kenyatta Evers, died of colon cancer. Their two surviving children are Reena Denise and James Van. Wikipedia

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Only a Pawn in Their Game

                                  By Bob Dylan


A bullet from the back of a bush took Medgar Evers’ blood. A finger fired the trigger to his name. A handle hid out in the dark, A hand set the spark, Two eyes took the aim, Behind a man’s brain; But he can’t be blamed— He’s only a pawn in their game. 

The South politician preaches to the poor white man, “You got more than the blacks, don’t complain. You’re better than them, you been born with white skin,” they explain. And the Negro’s nameIs used, it is plain, For the politician’s gain, As he rises to fame And the poor white remainsOn the caboose of the train; So it ain’t him to blame— He’s only a pawn in their game.

The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid, And the marshals and cops get the same, But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool.

He’s taught in his school, From the start by the rule, That the laws are with him To protect his white skin, To keep up his hate, So he never thinks straight’Bout the shape that he’s in; So it ain’t him to blame— He’s only a pawn in their game.

From the poverty shacks, he looks from the cracks to the tracks, And the hoof beats pound in his brain.

And he’s taught how to walk in a pack, Shoot in the back, With his fist in a clinch To hang and to lynch, To hide ‘neath the hood, To kill with no pain, Like a dog on a chain. He ain’t got no name; But it ain’t him to blame— He’s only a pawn in their game. 

Today, Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet  he caught. They lowered him down as a king. But when the shadowy sun sets on the one That fired the gun, He’ll see by his grave On the stone that remains, Carved next to his name, His epitaph plain:

Only a pawn in their game.

Bob Dylan video

Only a Pawn in Their Game

Medgar Wiley Evers (July 2, 1925 – June 12, 1963, Civil Rights Leader, Human Rights Activist—Rewards were offered by the governor of Mississippi and several all-white newspapers for information about Evers’s murderer, but few came forward with information. However, an FBI investigation uncovered a suspect, Byron de la Beckwith, an outspoken opponent of integration and a founding member of Mississippi’s White Citizens Council. A gun found 150 feet from the site of the shooting had Beckwith’s fingerprint on it. Several witnesses placed Beckwith in Evers’s neighborhood that night. On the other hand, Beckwith denied shooting Evers and claimed that his gun had been stolen days before the incident. He too produced witnesses–one of them a policeman–who swore before the court that Beckwith was some 60 miles from Evers’s home on the night he was killed. Beckwith was tried twice in Mississippi for Evers’s murder, once in 1964 and again the following year. Both trials ended in hung juries. Sam Baily, an Evers associate, commented in Esquire that during those years “a white man got more time for killing a rabbit out of season than for killing a Negro in Mississippi.” After the second trial, Myrlie Evers took her children and moved to California, where she earned a degree from Pomona College and was eventually named to the Los Angeles Commission of Public Works. However, her conviction that justice was never served in her husband’s case kept Mrs. Evers involved in the search for new evidence. As recently as 1991, Byron de la Beckwith was arrested a third time on charges of murdering Medgar Evers. Beckwith was extradited to Mississippi to await trial again, still maintaining his innocence and still committed to the platform of white supremacy. The Evers Legacy Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of Medgar Evers’s story lies in the attitudes of his two sons and one daughter. Though they experienced firsthand the destructive ways of bigotry and hatred, Evers’s children appear to be very well-adjusted individuals. “My children turned out to be wonderfully strong and loving adults,” Myrlie Evers concluded Ebony. “It has taken time to heal the wounds [from their father’s assassination] and I’m not really sure all the wounds are healed. We still hurt, but we can talk about it now and cry about it openly with each other, and the bitterness and anger have gone.” At the same time, Mrs. Evers asserted in People that she hopes for Beckwith’s conviction on the murder charges. (He was, indeed, convicted after the third trial.) “People have said, `Let it go, it’s been a long time. Why bring up all the pain and anger again?'” she explained. “But I can’t let it go. It’s not finished for me, my children or … grandchildren. I walked side by side with Medgar in everything he did. This [new] trial is going the last mile of the way.”  Flickr

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The Navy Honors a Civil Rights Pioneer

Today in Jackson, Mississippi, I was privileged to honor a civil rights hero and the millions of Americans who have furthered the cause of liberty. As Secretary of the Navy, I am responsible for naming our ships. Today, I announced that the first ship I will name will be the USNS Medgar Evers.

The ship that will carry Medgar Evers name around the world for a generation is a T-AKE, a critically important supply ship. They are traditionally named for famous American pioneers, explorers, and visionaries. They celebrate the dreams and bold action of the American spirit and they honor men and women who have changed our country and the world for the better – men and women like Alan Shepard, Sacagawea, Carl Brashear, and Amelia Earhart. The ships’ namesakes represent the rich tapestry that is America. 

Medgar Evers carried on that proud tradition as a pioneer and visionary of the civil rights movement. As a young man, he served in France during the Second World War. Upon returning to the United States, he took up the cause of freedom, rose to become the Field Secretary of the NAACP in Mississippi, and campaigned tirelessly to end segregation and ensure equal treatment for every American.

No less so than the heroes who have fought and died for our country overseas, he gave his life to defend America and its principles when he was assassinated in his own driveway in June of 1963.

It was an emotional ceremony today when I announced my choice, speaking at the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute on Citizenship and Democracy at Jackson State University. The Institute honors another civil rights leader from Mississippi. I was proud to be joined today by the widow of Medgar Evers, Mrs. Myrlie Evers-Williams, as well as by Congressman Bennie Thompson, Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson, former Mississippi Governor William Winter, and a score of other civil rights activists and Mississippians. Sharing the moment with them was a humbling experience for me. It reminded me of how far we have come, but also of how much others who went before us sacrificed on our behalf, just like the Sailors and Marines I’m proud to serve as Secretary.

I believe today we honored the work of legends and in a small way reaffirmed the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that “one day the nation would rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed – that all men are created equal.”

Ray Mabus is Secretary of the Navy

posted October 09, 2009

Source: Whitehouse

Medgar Evers—Part 1, Civil Rights Hero / Medgar Evers—Part 2, Civil Rights Hero

The Medgar Evers Story  / Medgar Evers / Mississippi Martyr

Keeping It Trim & Burning (poem for Fannie Lou Hamer)

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Sex at the Margins

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This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.

“Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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Debt: The First 5,000 Years

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We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it. Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history—as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.  

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

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posted 2 May 2010




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