Justice served three decades after Medgar Evers’ death
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Medgar Evers was 37 and a Mississippi field secretary for the NAACP back in 1963 and was heavily involved in civil rights efforts; things like getting African Americans registered to vote and challenging racial segregation, which was then common here and across the South.
Evers also led protests against white-owned businesses that depended on Black customers - but treated them like second-class citizens. He organized boycotts to get their attention.
“Don’t shop for anything on Capitol Street,” he said. “Let’s let the merchants down on Capitol Street feel the economic pinch.”
It was after midnight on June 12 when Evers finally got off work and drove to his house in west Jackson on Guynes Street, now Margaret Walker Alexander Drive.
As Evers got out of his car, a man hiding in the bushes across the street opened fire and shot him in the back.
Evers’ wife, Myrlie, met him in the carport where she held him in her arms until someone could get him to the hospital.
He did not make it through the night.
A man named Byron de la Beckwith from Greenwood was soon arrested, but two all-white juries never could reach a verdict on his guilt. He remained free for the next 30 years until the Hinds County District Attorney’s Office re-opened the case.
In the summer of 1990, WLBT News found out where Beckwith was then living and repoter Ed Bryson made the trip to Signal Mountain, Tennessee, where the aging white supremacist was still steadfast in his views.
That interview was subpeonaed by the DA’s office to use in its new case against Beckwith. A few years later, District Attorney Ed Peters, Assistant DA Bobby DeLaughter, and their team were successful in finally getting Beckwith convicted and sent to prison for the rest of his life.
It was a verdict the Evers family had waited three decades to hear.
On the day the guilty verdict was announced, WLBT produced a live special report called “The Road to Justice.”
One year later, Myrlie Evers was named national chair of the NAACP.
In 2013, she delivered the invocation at President Obama’s second inauguration.
Today, the Jackson home she shared with her husband -- where his life was cut short -- is preserved as a National Monument.
The Evers story is the subject of multiple books and the movie “Ghosts of Mississippi,” much of which was filmed here in Jackson.
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