Magazine article The Crisis

The Nation Remembers Medgar Evers

Magazine article The Crisis

The Nation Remembers Medgar Evers

Article excerpt

A light wind swept through the tall trees at Arlington National Cemetery as hundreds gathered around the grave site of civil rights activist Medgar Evers. They were there to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the slain leader's death and celebrate his life and legacy.

On June 12, 1963, Evers, 37, was gunned down in the driveway of his home in Jackson, Miss. As the NAACP's first field secretary for Mississippi, he traveled throughout the state to register Black voters and organized boycotts against discriminatory businesses. White supremacist Byron De La Beckwith was eventually convicted, in 1994, of Evers' murder.

The commemorative event was the brainchild of three students - Sharmistha Dev, Jajah Wu and Debra Siegel - and their teacher, Barry Bradford, from Adlai E. Stevenson High School outside Chicago. Evers was the subject of their history research project. His life so moved the students that they felt he had to be honored.

"The work of Medgar and the NAACP is not about race," says Bradford. "It's about justice and fairness."

Evers' widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, proudly acknowledged the students and challenged others to take up the mantle.

"People chanted at Medgar's funeral in Jackson, 'After Medgar, no more fear,' but... there are many of us who know that ills still exist and will not step forward to do anything," said Evers-Williams. "These young women, they rose to the challenge - that speaks to the power of our young people ... that they indeed can make a tremendous impact. …

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