(Photo Courtesy: Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Archives and Records Services Division, Moncrief Collection [#466])
Charles Evers, the longtime civil rights activist and older brother of Medgar Evers, has passed away at the age of 97.
Following his brother’s murder in 1963, Charles, a WWII veteran, returned to Mississippi where he succeeded Medgar as the field secretary of the NAACP. In the role, he continued to fight for equality while organizing boycotts, protests, and registration campaigns. In 1969, Evers made history when he was elected as the mayor of Fayette, Mississippi — becoming the first African-American mayor of a racially-mixed Mississippi city in the post-Reconstruction era.
Evers went on to run for Governor in 1971 and a Senate seat in 1978, but he was unsuccessful in both races.
Shortly after news broke of Evers’ death, Governor Tate Reeves issued the following statement on Twitter.
Rest In Peace, Charles Evers. He was a civil rights leader and a true friend to me and so many Mississippians. His memory will always be cherished and honored.
— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) July 22, 2020
Evers endorsed Donald Trump ahead of the 2016 Presidential election, and the President took to Twitter to honor the “fearless” activist.
I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend Charles Evers. Charles was a trail blazer in politics and a fearless leader, alongside his brother Medgar, for Civil Rights. pic.twitter.com/rL4bLbCY1D
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2020
Tributes continue to pour in following the passing of the civil rights leader.
“Charles Evers was a Mississippi and Civil Rights icon. His life serves as a reminder to never be afraid of challenging the status quo. He will be missed by many.” – Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith
“Charles Evers was an absolute classic. His rich and colorful story makes him unique among our state’s historical figures. His career covered the spectrum from his roguish youth to a respected civil rights leader, mayor, businessman, and radio host. Charles Evers was never afraid to challenge the accepted norms or fly in the face of political correctness. As an elected official he navigated the circuitous route from Freedom Democrat to Independent to Republican, even serving as a Trump elector in 2016. He used his powerful personality and platform to change Mississippi for the better. He was one of my favorites, and I doubt we will ever see another like him.” – Senator Roger Wicker
We are all saddened by the news of the passing of Mr. Charles Evers. In 1969, he became Mississippi’s first black mayor since Reconstruction of Fayette, MS. I extend my deepest condolences to the Evers family.” – Congressman Bennie Thompson
“Charles and his brother, Medgar, dedicated their time on this earth to the advancement of civil rights for all Americans and rigorously pursued justice for all. Following the tragic murder of his brother, Charles gracefully assumed Medgar’s position as head of the NAACP in Mississippi to continue his efforts to expand civil rights for African Americans in the Magnolia State. In 1969, he became the first African American mayor elected in Mississippi since Reconstruction, making Mr. Evers a symbol of the civil rights that he and his brother fought to advance. He served as an advisor and mentor to many public officials, from local governments to the President of the United States. Today, I join our Mississippi family in thankful prayer for his time with us and that he returned to our Heavenly Father having accomplished his goal of creating a better nation for all people.” – Congressman Michael Guest
“I knew Charles Evers for 40 years and considered him a friend. Few people live their lives with the confident ability to express themselves like he did. He will be missed in Mississippi.” – Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann
According to the Mississippi Encyclopedia, Evers hosted the Medgar Wiley Evers Homecoming Celebration, which honors his brother’s life and legacy, since 1973.