Hall of Fame: Medgar Evers

Nominations are currently being sought for the 2011 class of the Mississippi Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honors women and men who made noteworthy contributions to the state. Consideration for the Hall of Fame takes place only once every five years and any Mississippian—native or adopted—deceased at least five years may be nominated. The deadline for nominations is October 1, and elections will be held at a special meeting of the MDAH board of trustees in December. Click here for complete nomination guidelines.

This series recognizes members of the Hall of Fame, whose portraits hang in the Old Capitol Museum. Special thanks to Anna Todd, University of Southern Mississippi student and MDAH summer intern, for researching this post.

It is the responsibility of the nominating entity to fund the portraits, thus some members of the Hall of Fame, including Medgar Evers, do not have portraits.

Medgar Evers (1925-1963) was one of the most prominent and effective leaders in the civil rights movement. Born in 1925 in Decatur, Mississippi, Evers was the son of a farmer and sawmill worker. In 1943, he was inducted into the United States Army and fought in the European Theater of World War II. After being honorably discharged as a sergeant in 1945, he enrolled at Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1946. Evers majored in business administration and was involved in sports, choir, and the student government. He married his classmate Myrlie Beasley in 1951.

Evers joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1952, and two years later became the organization’s first field secretary for Mississippi. In his position, Evers recruited new members, organized local NAACP chapters, and investigated instances of racial injustice. He played a crucial role in bringing the civil rights movement in Mississippi to the nation’s attention through his work in attempting to desegregate the University of Mississippi.

During his years with the NAACP, Evers’s public support of James Meredith and Clyde Kennard and his investigation into the riots following Meredith’s admission to the University of Mississippi and the murder of Emmett Till led to numerous threats on his life. On June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers was assassinated at his home. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors on June 19, 1963, with more than 3,000 people in attendance. Today Evers is memorialized in Jackson with a statue erected in his honor, and his name has been given to a major thoroughfare in the city, as well as the state’s largest airport. He was inducted into the Mississippi Hall of Fame in 1991.