The Autobiography of Medgar Evers

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For the first time, the life of Medgar Evers as told through his speeches, letters, and papers, in a volume edited by his widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, and scholar Manning Marable

On the evening of June 12, 1963-the day President John F. Kennedy gave his most impassioned speech about the need for interracial tolerance -Medgar Evers, the NAACP's first field secretary in Mississippi, was shot and killed by an assassin's bullet in his driveway. The still-smoking gun-bearing the ...

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New first edition, first printing hardcover and dust jacket in very fine condition. Protective mylar cover. 1.4 x 9.3 x 6 Inches For the first time, the life of Medgar Evers ... as told through his speeches, letters, and papers, in a volume edited by his widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, and scholar Manning Marable. Read more Show Less

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Overview

For the first time, the life of Medgar Evers as told through his speeches, letters, and papers, in a volume edited by his widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, and scholar Manning Marable

On the evening of June 12, 1963-the day President John F. Kennedy gave his most impassioned speech about the need for interracial tolerance -Medgar Evers, the NAACP's first field secretary in Mississippi, was shot and killed by an assassin's bullet in his driveway. The still-smoking gun-bearing the fingerprints of Byron De La Beckwith, a staunch white supremacist-was recovered moments later in some nearby bushes. Still, Beckwith remained free for over thirty years, until Evers's widow finally forced the Mississippi courts to bring him to justice. The Autobiography of Medgar Evers tells the full story of one the greatest leaders of the civil rights movement, bringing his achievement to life for a new generation. Although Evers's memory has remained a force in the civil rights movement, the legal battles surrounding his death have too often overshadowed the example and inspiration of his life.

Myrlie Evers-Williams and Manning Marable have assembled the previously untouched cache of Medgar's personal documents, writings, and speeches. These remarkable pieces range from Medgar's monthly reports to the NAACP to his correspondence with luminaries of the time such as Robert Carter, General Counsel for the NAACP in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. Most important of all are the recollections of Myrlie Evers, combined with letters from her personal collection. These documents and memories form the backbone of The Autobiography of Medgar Evers- a cohesive narrative detailing the rise and tragic death of a civil rights hero.

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Editorial Reviews

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Medgar Evers left no autobiography per se. The civil rights activist never reached an age when he could reflect quietly on his life; he was cut down by an assassin's bullet in June 1963, a month before his 38th birthday. This influential black intellectual did however leave a significant cache of personal documents that reflect a fearless man in action. The papers include Evers's stunning speeches (many of which have been previously published), his monthly reports to the NAACP, and his personal correspondence. This landmark volume also contains the recollections of Myrlie Evers, Medgar's widow.
Publishers Weekly
In an era filled with charismatic leaders, Evers (1925-1963) came to national attention primarily as the victim of "the first political assassination of a major leader of the modern Black Freedom Movement." As NAACP field secretary in Mississippi, Evers recruited NAACP members, desegregated schools, registered voters and organized boycotts. The work was usually undramatic, but always perilous. Evers's widow and historian Marable seek to redress Evers's relative absence from the historical record. But more than half of these 89 documents (from the years 1954-1963) are mundane monthly reports to or business correspondence with the NAACP. Ten Evers speeches are included along with eight newspaper articles, four press releases, a telegram to Eisenhower and one to Kennedy, an NAACP newsletter, a "text fragment," a posthumous Life interview. There's no clue to the principle of selection. With the exception of two very brief notes to his family, there is no personal correspondence. This monument is a tomb ready for excavation by historians of the Civil Rights movement, but it's not for the ordinary reader looking for an autobiography of Medgar Evers. It reveals the quotidian work rather than the indomitable man. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
June 2005 marks the 42nd anniversary of the assassination of Evers, the civil rights leader and first Mississippi field secretary of the NAACP. His autobiography has been put together for the first time by his widow, Evers-Williams, and Marable (history, Columbia Univ.; W.E.B. DuBois: Black Radical Democrat) from Evers's unpublished papers and personal collections as well as Evers-Williams's recollections. The resulting text resurrects the life, intellectual output, and creative legacy of the slain civil rights hero. Evers became a marked man throughout Mississippi as a result of his tireless civil rights efforts, which included making it possible for blacks to vote, having the first black, James Meredith, admitted to the University of Mississippi, and bringing national attention to the lynchings of Emmett Till and Mack Charles Parker. In the early 1960s "inside the Evers home, furniture was piled in front of all the windows, and the barricaded nature was not uncommon for a civil rights person in Mississippi." On June 12, 1963, at age 37, Evers was gunned down in the driveway of his home in Jackson. His was the first political assassination of a prominent leader of the modern Black Freedom Movement. This autobiography is deftly organized into eight chapters, the final two being "I Speak as a Native Mississippian" and "After Medgar, No More Fear." These chapters enunciate his greatest achievements: his relentless struggle and determination to stay in Jackson against all odds and his bequest to fear no more. An excellent resource on the Civil Rights Movement for both academic and public libraries.-Edward McCormack, Cox Lib. Media Ctr. & Curriculum Lab, Univ. of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Long Beach Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465021772
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 5/30/2005
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Myrlie Evers-Williams is the widow of slain civil rights hero Medgar Evers and former chairwoman of the NAACP. She has continued the work of her late husband, and her tireless efforts to bring about social change have kept his memory alive. Myrlie Evers-Williams lives in Bend, Oregon. Manning Marable is Professor of History, Political Science, and Public Policy, at Columbia University. Marable lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Preface xiii
Introduction: A Servant-Leader of the People: Medgar Wiley Evers (1925-1963) xvii
Chapter I Bring Justice Sure 1
Documents 1-11 (December 1954-December 1955)
1 Medgar Evers, Memorandum, "Report on Mississippi," December 1954 17
2 Memorandum to Mr. Wilkins from Mr. Current, December 13, 1954 21
327
(1) Amzie Moore to Roy Wilkins, January 17, 1955
(2) Medgar Evers to Amzie Moore, January 27, 1955
(3) Medgar Evers to J.E. Walker, Tri-State Bank, January 27, 1955
(4) Gloster Current to Medgar Evers, February 1, 1955
(5) Roy Wilkins to Amzie Moore, November 18, 1955
4 Medgar Evers to Lucille Black, July 20, 1955 33
534
(1) Henry Lee Moon to Medgar Evers, September 16, 1955
(2) Evers to Moon, December 5, 1955
6 Gloster B. Current to Medgar Evers, October 5, 1955 37
7 Telegram, Medgar Evers to Roy Wilkins, October 27, 1955 38
8 Medgar Evers, Memorandum, "Report on Death of Tim L. Hudson," November 3, 1955 39
9 Transcript of a telephone conversation, Medgar Evers and Gloster B. Current, December 8, 1955 41
10 Roy Wilkins to Medgar Evers, December 21, 1955 43
11 Transcript of a telephone conference call, Medgar Evers, Ruby Hurley, and Gloster B. Current, December 27, 1955 45
Chapter II Trial By Fire 47
Documents 12-23 (June 21, 1956-November 14, 1957)
12 Monthly Report: "June 3 Meeting," "Bundles for Freedom," "Membership Campaign," and "Branches Visited," June 21, 1956 53
1354
(1) Medgar Evers to Martin Luther King, Jr., July 31, 1956
(2) King to Evers, December 11, 1956
14 Telegram to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, October 25, 1956 57
1559
(1) Roy Wilkins to Medgar Evers, December 18, 1956
(2) Evers to Wilkins, December 28, 1956
(3) Evers to Wilkins, February 1, 1957
(4) Wilkins to Evers, February 8, 1957
(5) Evers to Wilkins, March 11, 1957
16 Medgar Evers to William Stratton, Governor of Illinois, March 20, 1957 67
17 Monthly Report: "The Alcorn Situation," "Report on Branch Activities," and "Hinds County Grand Jury Hearing," March 25, 1957 69
18 Medgar W. Evers, Introduction of Congressman Charles C. Diggs, Jackson, Mississippi, May 19, 1957 72
19 Medgar W. Evers, Address, Mount Heron Baptist Church, Vicksburg, Mississippi, August 11, 1957 73
20 Medgar Evers to Robert Carter, General Counsel, NAACP, September 4, 1957 78
21 News Release, Mississippi State Conference of NAACP Branches, October 15, 1957 79
22 "Integration Seen by '63, Mississippi NAACP Aide Finds Progress in State," New York Times, November 10, 1957 80
23 Annual Report, 1957, November 14, 1957 80
Chapter III Why I Live in Mississippi 85
Documents 24-34 (January 24, 1958-March 23, 1959)
24 Medgar Evers to Ruby Hurley, NAACP Southeastern Regional Secretary, January 24, 1958 91
25 Medgar Evers to Roy Wilkins, April 1, 1958 92
26 Monthly Report: "Registration and Voting," "Fund-Raising," and "Memberships," April 11, 1958 94
2797
(1) Medgar Evers to Johnnie M. Brooks, May 15, 1958
(2) Evers to Brooks, May 23, 1958
28 Medgar Evers, Address, Celebration of the Brown decision's fourth anniversary, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Branch of NAACP, Masonic Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 18, 1958 99
29 Medgar Evers to Gloster B. Current, Director of Branches, NAACP, September 8, 1958 107
30 Monthly Report: "Intimidation," September 23, 1958 110
31 Medgar Evers, "Why I Live in Mississippi," originally published in Ebony, November 1958 111
32 Annual Report, 1958: "Registration and Voting" and "Desegregation," January 1959 122
33125
(1) Medgar Evers to Gloster B. Current, February 24, 1959
(2) Current to Evers, March 24, 1959
34 Monthly Report: "Registration and Voting" and "Mississippi Teachers Association," March 23, 1959 128
Chapter IV Our Need for Political Participation 131
Documents 35-44 (May 21, 1959-March 22, 1960)
35 Monthly Report: "Speaking Engagements," "The Poplarville Incident," and "May 17th Celebration," May 21, 1959 137
36 Medgar Evers, Address to the Los Angeles Branch of the NAACP, Los Angeles, California, May 31, 1959 140
37 Monthly Report: "Speaking Engagements," June 22, 1959 156
38 Medgar Evers, Address to the Area Conference of the Florida Branches of the NAACP, Panama City, Florida, September 6, 1959 158
39 Medgar Evers, Address at Vesper Services, J. P. Campbell College, Jackson, Mississippi, October 25, 1959 160
40 Medgar W. Evers, Field Secretary, "Comments on Mississippi NAACP Operations," January 1960 163
41 "Race Sentencing Hit, NAACP Compares Terms of Negroes and Whites," United Press International, New York Times, January 23, 1960 166
42 Medgar Evers, Address at the Men's Day Program of the Freemont African Methodist Episcopal Church, Miles, Mississippi, February 28, 1960 166
43170
(1) Medgar Evers to Gloster B. Current, March 9, 1960
(2) C. R. Darden, President, Mississippi State Conference Branches, NAACP, to Medgar Evers, March 14, 1960
(3) C. R. Darden to Gloster B. Current, March 14, 1960
(4) Medgar Evers to Gloster B. Current, March 15, 1960
44 Monthly Report: "Branch Activity" and "Sit-Down Protests," March 22, 1960 174
Chapter V Keep Your Eyes on the Prize 177
Documents 45-55 (April 19, 1960-December 20, 1960)
45 Report to Mrs. Ruby Hurley from Medgar W. Evers, Field Secretary, April 19, 1960 184
46 Monthly Report: "Branch Activity" and "Anti-Segregation Demonstrations," April 21, 1960 185
47 Monthly Report: "Biloxi Anti-Segregation Demonstration," May 23, 1960 188
48 Monthly Report: "Action," June 29, 1960 190
49 Monthly Report: "Branch Activities" and "Investigations," July 22, 1960 191
50 Memorandum, Gloster B. Current to Roy Wilkins, "Regarding the Beating of Johnny Frazier, State President, NAACP Mississippi Youth Council," August 29, 1960 193
51 Report of Medgar Evers (Press Release), August 30, 1960 194
52 Monthly Report: "Investigation," August 30, 1960 195
53 Monthly Report: "Civil Rights Commission," October 19, 1960 198
54 Monthly Report: "The Clyde Kennard and Medgar Evers Cases," December 20, 1960 199
55 "...with Liberty and Justice for All...," Mississippi NAACP Branch Newsletter, December 20, 1960 202
Chapter VI Taking Freedom for Ourselves 213
Documents 56-69 (February 12, 1961-October 14, 1962)
56 Medgar Evers, Address to the Jackson NAACP Branch, New Mount Zion Baptist Church, Jackson, Mississippi, February 12, 1961 220
57 Medgar Evers, "Yesterday-Today," Text Fragment, February 12, 1961 223
58 Medgar Evers to Roy Wilkins, March 29, 1961 223
59 Medgar W. Evers, Address to Mass Protest Meeting, Jackson, Mississippi, April 20, 1961 225
60 Monthly Report: "Desegregation Activities," April 21, 1961 228
61 Memorandum, "NAACP Plans Jackson, Mississippi, Voter Meeting," June 7, 1961 230
62 "NAACP Aide is Freed, Supreme Court of Mississippi Upsets Contempt Finding," United Press International, New York Times, June 13, 1961 231
63 Monthly Report: "Branch Activity," "Legal Action," "Zoo Sit-In," and "Freedom Riders," June 21, 1961 231
64 Monthly Report: "Direction Action," September 6, 1961 234
65 Medgar Evers to Roy Wilkins, Gloster B. Current, and Ruby Hurley, Memorandum, "Operation of Other Civil Rights Organizations in the State of Mississippi," October 12, 1961 235
66 "Seven Negroes Arrested for Boycott Role," United Press International, December 8, 1961 243
67 Medgar Evers to Alfred Baker Lewis, February 1, 1962 243
68 Medgar Evers, Address for the Men's Day Program, New Jerusalem M. B. Church, Jackson, Mississippi, July 22, 1962 245
69 Dorothy Giliam, "Mississippi Mood: Hope and Fear," Washington Post, October 14, 1962 249
Chapter VII I Speak as a Native Mississippian 255
Documents 70-81 (November 7, 1962-June 10, 1963)
70 Monthly Report: "Boycott of Mississippi State Fair for Negroes" and "17th Annual State Conference, NAACP," November 7, 1962 263
71 "'Quarantine' on Segregated States Urged," Los Angeles Times, November 10, 1962 264
72 Transcriptions of two handwritten notes from Medgar to his family, November 27, 1962, and December 1, 1962 265
73 Monthly Report: "Speaking Engagements," "Selected Buying Campaign," and "Investigation," January 4, 1963 266
74 Monthly Report: "Poll Tax," "Meredith Returns," "Labor and Industry," "Clyde Kennard," and "Investigation," February 7, 1963 269
75 Monthly Report: "School Desegregation," "Investigation," "Registration and Voting," and "Labor," March 6, 1963 274
76 Medgar Evers, "Special Report," April 1, 1963 278
77 Medgar Evers, Televised Address, "I Speak as a Native Mississippian," May 20, 1963 280
78 Telegram to President John F. Kennedy, June 1, 1963 283
79 "Roy Wilkins Is Arrested at Jackson: NAACP Official Accused of Felony; D.C. Man Seized," Associated Press, Washington Post and Times Herald, June 2, 1963 284
80 Wallace Terry, "Negroes' 'Awakened Militancy' Now Centers on Mississippi," Washington Post, June 7, 1963 287
81 Medgar W. Evers, Press Statement, June 10, 1963 290
Chapter VIII After Medgar, No More Fear 291
Documents 82-89
82 President Kennedy to Myrlie Evers, June 13, 1963 298
83 Bill Peters, "A Talk with Medgar Evers," New York Post, June 12 and 16, 1963 298
84 Myrlie Evers, "He Said He Wouldn't Mind Dying-If...," Life, June 28, 1963 304
85 Myrlie Evers, Remarks in Acceptance of the 48th Spingarn Medal for Medgar Evers (posthumously) at the 54th Annual NAACP Convention, July 4, 1963 309
86 Medgar W. Evers, Address, "Our Need for Political Participation," Tougaloo College, Jackson, Mississippi, no date 310
87 Medgar W. Evers, Address, "Ingratitude vs. the NAACP," no date, no location 313
88 Medgar W. Evers, Address, "Life Challenges for Today's Youth," no date, no location 315
89 Medgar W. Evers, Address, "The Challenge Is Ours," no date, no location 316
Notes 319
Bibliography 327
Index 331
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