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Myrlie Evers-Williams on the Murder of Her Husband Civil Rights Leader Medgar Evers Who Died 40 Years Ago Today

StoryJune 12, 2003
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It was 40 years ago today that a gunshot in the night took the life of Medgar Evers, the Civil Rights leader. His assassination concluded a seminal day in the Civil Rights movement.

It was 40 years ago today that a gunshot in the night took the life of Medgar Evers, the Civil Rights leader. His assassination concluded a seminal day in the Civil Rights movement.

Earlier that day, Alabama Segregationist Governor George Wallace stood on the steps of the state’s all white University and tried to block the admission of two black students. That night, President Kennedy delivered an impassioned speech defending the Federal Government’s intervention on behalf of the students. He spoke of a "moral crisis" facing the nation.

With Evers’ death, the movement lost one of its most inspired leaders. He became an NAACP leader in 1954 after the all-white University of Mississippi rejected his law school application. Through the NAACP, Evers fought to increase black voter registration, led business boycotts and brought attention to the murders and lynchings, like the slaying of black teenager Emmet Till.

  • Tape: Medgar Evers, speaking shortly before he was killed 40 years ago.
  • Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of civil rights leader Medgar Evers who was killed 40 years ago today. He was shot dead by a white separatist in front of the family’s home in Jackson Mississippi. From 1995 to 1998 she served as the chair of the NAACP. Prior to that she was the first African-American woman to be appointed to the Los Angeles Board of Public Works. She has written two books: For Us, the Living, with William Peters, and an autobiography, Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I was Meant to Be.

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