Yes Mi Irieites,
This is a tribute to one of the most legendary activists of all time, N.A.A.C.P. leader, Medgar Evers, who was assassinated this day June 12th, 1963. This marks the 50th anniversary of his death.
Medgar was born in Decatur, Mississippi July 2nd 1925, (the same year as Malcolm X). He became very active in the civil rights movement after being rejected from enrolling in the University of Mississippi, back in 1954. The South had a fortress of opposition that limited and confined Afro Americans in regards to schooling, housing, work, public facilities and places of entertainment. It was only a mere eight years previous to this assassination that Emmett Till got murdered. So the state of Mississippi was already recognized as a bastion of racism.
Medgar was determined to be vocal and confrontational about this situation in so many ways. As he had put it, “Jim Crow Laws Must Go,” which was the slogan that was written on the t-shirt he was wearing the day he died.
Many historical events were taking place throughout the year of 1963. For example, the day before the shooting, Governor George Wallace of Alabama and also a (then) staunch advocate of segregation, made a desperate attempt to bar students, Vivian Malone and James Hood from a local auditorium; a place exclusive to whites. Special officers of the law eventually intervened and overturned this. President Kennedy also made a speech on national TV that day in support of the Civil Rights Movement.
The period leading up to Medgar Evers’ death was full of threats and reprisals. This included a Molotov cocktail thrown into the parking area of his home and an attempt to run him over while he was leaving an N.A.A.C.P meeting, in Jackson.
During my childhood, back in the UK, Evers’ name was not as predominant as Dr Martin Luther King, or Malcolm X. It was during my adulthood that I realised the impact that this individual had on the Civil Rights Movement in the US at that time. After analysing the events and his story I can honestly say, this individual takes the prize. His environment was isolated and he was not one to be crowded with bodyguards. Therefore he must have known within himself that the stance he was taking against society would cut his life short.
I continue my “Big Ups” to all the muzos’ that supported his cause during those tumultuous years: Bob Dylan (Only a Pawn in their Game), Nina Simone (Mississippi Goddamn) and Phil Ochs (Too Many Martyrs), to name a few.
And a maximum respect to Myrlie Evers-Williams, his widow, who I saw for the first time, making a speech at the Obama Inauguration. Previous to that Mrs. Evers-Williams was invited to christen a ship in honor of her “late” husband in 2011. A statue of Medgar now stands erected outside a library in Jackson, MI.
Medgar, I don’t know why I use the word “late,” because as far as we are concerned, your “Greatness” came right on time.