Charles Evers's Arrest Record: Its Importance for Civil Rights History

Article excerpt

An important piece of civil rights history relating to Medgar Evers's older brother, Charles, has recently surfaced. Charles Evers's arrest records, the first dated October 2, 1965, and the second dated October 4 that same year, were among records filed away by the Natchez Mississippi police and not found until recently. These arrest records do not appear in histories of the Civil Rights Era or in Medgar's or Charles's biographies. These previously unpublished records not only focus on a major incident in the life of Charles Evers as a civil rights activist but also provide a snapshot of a tumultuous weekend in October 1965 and in the civil rights movement as a whole. Galvanized by Charles Evers's leadership, hundreds of mostly African American teenagers and young adults were arrested in the fall of 1965 along with Evers for defying a court order banning marching through the streets of Natchez. As lawmakers in many other Mississippi communities such as Greenwood and Itta Bena did, the Natchez police used intimidation and even violence to deter and dispel civil rights protestors (Hendrickson 239).

Charles Evers's arrest records, however undetailed, have significant historical value. They highlight his role in the civil rights struggles along with the icons of civil rights such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy and, of course, Charles's brother, Medgar. But even more importantly, they mark a shift in protest tactics. Charles adopted a much more pragmatic "fight back" attitude as opposed to Dr. King's non-violent approach. …