JACKSON, Miss.–It was June 12, 1963 when assassin Byron de la Beckwith, a white supremacist, put a bullet in the back of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, right outside of his Jackson home where his wife and kids were enjoying their evening. Now, 50 years later, his accomplishments are being remembered by national leaders.
A wreath-laying ceremony was held Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery, where Evers is buried as a national hero.
During his life, Evers was field secretary for the National Assoc. for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Mississippi. His main goal was getting black people registered to vote. At the time, many African-Americans in the state were turned away from the polls illegally because they did not “qualify” and many more were beaten or terrorized if they attempted to register.
Evers also helped organize demonstrations like the Woolworth’s sit-in by a mixed group of Tougaloo College students, who were beaten, spat upon, slapped and dowsed with mustad and ketchup as they refused to leave a segregated lunch counter in Jackson just two weeks before Evers was shot.
“Nineteen sixty-three was an amazing year in the course of our nation’s struggle for a more perfect union,” said former Pres. Bill Clinton at Wednesday’s event, acknowledging Evers’ killing and many other events that year that would eventually lead to forced integration.
U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder was another of the speakers, who sat along-side Evers widow Myrlie Evers-Williams, who has participated in several events in Mississippi this year leading up to the commemoration.
Holder said the anniversary presents an opportunity to “recommit our nation to the principals that he lived and died to defend.”
Here is a link to a previous story about events that begin in the capital city today: