Medgar Wiley Evers was born in Decatur County, Mississippi to his parents, James Evers and Jessie M. Wright. His father was part of the "section gang" on the railroad in the 1920's, moved to farming by the 1930's, and was working as a laborer at a sawmill by the 1940's. By the sound of things, he worked many different jobs to provide for his family. Medgar grew up in Decatur, along with his Mom and Dad, his 3 sisters, and 3 brothers.
Medgar went to a segregated school, and this meant a 12 mile walk every day. He did pursue and achieve his High School Diploma.
By the time World War II rolled around, he signed up for the draft and was drafted for the war. He served in the United States Army from 1943 to 1945 (age 18-20) and came home a veteran of the war. He reached the rank of Sergeant and was involved in the Battle of Normandy, which was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Almost a quarter of a million men were lost in this battle, but in the end the Allied forces held the day.
Returning home from the war, he enrolled in Alcorn (called Agricultural and Mechanical College at the time - now called Alcorn State University) and earned a BA in Business Administration in 1952. He also married Myrlie Beasley on Christmas Eve in 1951, only months before his graduation.
He and his wife moved to Mount Bayou, Mississippi and he became an insurance salesman. He became active in the community, and joined the RCNL (Regional Council of Negro Leadership) and even became their President. By 1954, the US Supreme Court denied segregated schools, and Medgar applied to University of Mississippi Law School - but was still denied due to his race. He turned over his case to the NAACP.
At the same time, he was named the NAACP's field secretary to Mississippi. He began to organize activist events, such as boycotts, protests, and the like that gained the attention of the local white supremacist organizations. In 1963 alone, he faced 3 significant attempts on his life as he stood up for civil rights. Unfortunately, on June 12, 1963, they succeeded in taking his life as he was shot once in the back by Byron De La Beckwith using an Enfield rifle. The bullet passed through his heart, and he was pronounced dead at the hospital around an hour later.
It took around 30 years and 3 trials to convict Byron De La Beckwith, but on February 5, 1994 he was finally convicted and sentenced to life without parole. Medgar was given a place of honor among his fellow veterans and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
A movie called "Ghosts of Mississippi" was made of the 1994 trial with Beckwith and recounted some events of Medgar's life and his assassination. The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (although it did not win the category).
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