Have No Fear: The Charles Evers Story


"Have No Fear reminds us what it meant to live under a system where segregation was important enough to kill for and where being treated with dignity and respect was a whites-only entitlement." —The New York Times Book Review

"A gutsy, American patriot and treasure . . . an important slice of American history."—Dan Rather

"Charles Evers has given us one of the most extraordinary memoirs about race in America that I know. This holy sinner of the civil rights era, who kept company with mobsters, bootleggers, call girls, Kings, Kennedys, and

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Have No Fear: The Charles Evers Story

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"Have No Fear reminds us what it meant to live under a system where segregation was important enough to kill for and where being treated with dignity and respect was a whites-only entitlement." —The New York Times Book Review

"A gutsy, American patriot and treasure . . . an important slice of American history."—Dan Rather

"Charles Evers has given us one of the most extraordinary memoirs about race in America that I know. This holy sinner of the civil rights era, who kept company with mobsters, bootleggers, call girls, Kings, Kennedys, and Rockefellers has produced, with Andrew Szanton, a salient one-man's history of Mississippi and the United States before and after Brown v. Board of Education. The fascinating interplay of racial nihilism and political sagacity is reminiscent of the early Malcolm X and the mature Frederick Douglass." —David Levering Lewis

"Truly spellbinding . . . relives the fear, desperation, and confrontation that marked the civil rights struggle." —The seattle times

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After his youngest brother, civil rights leader Medgar Evers, was murdered in 1963, outspoken, flamboyant Charles Evers carried the torch, running the Mississippi branch of the NAACP, integrating schools and hotels, organizing voter registration drives and boycotts, facing down the Ku Klux Klan. In 1969 he became the first black mayor in a century of the biracial Mississippi town of Fayette. A gripping autobiography, assembled by freelance writer Szanton from dozens of interviews with Evers, this first-person narrative brings to light an unsung, politically incorrect civil rights hero. Evers offers a searing account of growing up in Mississippi, "lynching capital of the country," in the 1920s and '30s. During WWII he fought in the invasion of the Philippines. Disc jockey, caf proprietor, mortician, shopping center owner, he was also a numbers runner for the Chicago mob, a whorehouse owner and a bootlegger in the 1950s and early '60s. Father of eight daughters by four mothers, twice-divorced Evers has been a friend of Martin Luther King, Nelson Rockefeller, bluesmen Muddy Waters and B.B. King, Alabama's segregationist governor George Wallace (with whom he sought common ground), and informal adviser to JFK, LBJ, Robert Kennedy, Nixon. In 1980 he endorsed Reagan and later became a Republican. Today, as blunt and unpredictable as ever, he ridicules "hustler" Jesse Jackson, Jimmy Carter, Afrocentrism, Louis Farrakhan and blacks who blame their economic problems on whites. Author tour. (Jan.) FYI: Publication coincidentally ties in with the opening of Ghosts of Mississippi, a film about Medgar Evers and his family starring Whoopi Goldberg, Alec Baldwin and James Woods.
Library Journal
Charles Evers, the older brother of slain Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers and perhaps one of the few unacknowledged movers of the Civil Rights era, has written a powerful account of growing up in Mississippi before the Civil Rights movement of the Sixties and of political activism following the assassination of his brother Medgar in 1963. Although the brothers had many differences, they agreed that one would continue the political struggle for equality if the other should perish. Along the way Charles befriended not only the poor and disenfranchised but also many American political leaders. He chastised contemporary Civil Rights leaders as coddled and ineffectual and white liberals as hypocritical. His story, filled with anger, indignation, and aspiration, lets readers experience racial prejudice firsthand. Confrontational and unapologetic, this book should be considered by all libraries.-Michael A. Lutes, Univ. of Notre Dame Lib., South Bend, Ind.
Kirkus Reviews
A spirited recounting of the life and times of one of America's most contradictory and controversial African-American politicians.

Evers, along with coauthor and oral historian Szanton, provides a fascinating, unorthodox portrait not only of his own unconventional life but of the civil rights movement as it took shape in his native Mississippi. Best known as the brother of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers, Charles had a role in the movement that has been underplayed, a casualty of his amoral behavior. Evers wanted not merely to survive but to get rich in the white man's world. He did what he could, which was to manage whorehouses, sell bootleg whiskey, and run numbers operations. While becoming best friends with Bobby Kennedy, he twice endorsed George Wallace in his bid for the US vice presidency and more recently voted for Ronald Reagan for president. Evers has little praise for his contemporaries in the civil rights movement. He portrays Roy Wilkins, along with the former leadership of the NAACP, as a pampered do-nothing; Stokely Carmichael and Rap Brown are accused of being frauds for preaching separatism while sleeping with their white girlfriends. Evers heaps his greatest scorn, however, on white liberals. "Ask liberals why they use lily-white private schools and they brag about not calling you `nigger.' It's deeds that count not words." Evers's greatest accomplishments, to his credit, were deeds. As the first black mayor of a biracial Mississippi town, he expanded city services, provided jobs, and gave both black and white people in his town a sense of dignity.

Though often self-righteous, unyielding, and intolerant, Evers's voice is worth hearing. His depiction of the racism he faced as he was coming of age in Mississippi is as melodramatic as it is authentic and significant.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781620456934
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 4/22/1998
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 362
  • Sales rank: 1,449,703
  • Product dimensions: 2.10 (w) x 3.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

CHARLES EVERS lives in Fayette, Mississippi, where he served as mayor for twenty-five years. ANDREW SZANTON is a former oral historian at the Smithsonian Institution. His first book was Recollections of Eugene P. Wigner. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

My Pact with Medgar.
Mama, Daddy, and Old Mark Thomas.
The Wall of Separation.
Whites Messed with Us, But We Couldn't Mess with Them.
Wheeling and Dealing at Alcorn.
Crossing the Line.
The Pure of Heart: Medgar Joins the NAACP Full-Time.
Terrible Years.
Chicago: The Chances I Took.
I Trusted to God and My .45 Pistol.
Turn Me Loose.
You Won't Die in Vain, Medgar.
Taking Over the Mississippi NAACP.
Two Lost Brothers.
Hate Goes on Trial.
Interrupting the Green.
The Next Step up the Ladder.
Lyndon Johnson Said, "We Shall Overcome." Black Power.
Losing Martin, Losing Bobby.
Running for Congress: Evers for Everybody.
Call Me "The Mayor." Fayette Was Our Israel.
A Black-Skinned Man Running for Governor.
Scolding Richard Nixon about Watergate.
Why I Became a Republican.
The Bridge That Carried Us Across.
Have No Fear.
Selected Bibliography.
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