civil rights speech the previous night
50 years ago today civil rights leader and NAACP Field Secretary Medgar Evers was shot and killed in the driveway of his Jackson, MS home by white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith as he returned from a meeting with NAACP lawyers in the early morning hours of June 12, 1963.
After his funeral in Jackson, the Army veteran was buried with full military honors June 19 in Arlington National Cemetery as President Kennedy and other leaders of the time condemned the murder.
De La Beckwith was arrested for murder within weeks of Evers’ shooting but his first trial in 1964 ended with a hung all-white male jury. When a second all-white male jury also failed to reach a decision, De La Beckwith was set free.
With the persistence of his widow Myrlie Evers-Williams, who later became the chair of the NAACP herself in 1995, pressure was applied three decades later by the Evers family and civil rights leaders to force the state of Mississippi to reopen the case based on new evidence.
Evers body was exhumed from his grave for autopsy during the trial and on February 5, 1994 a racially mixed jury convicted the then 73 year old unrepentant white supremacist De La Beckwith for the 1963 assassination of Evers and sentenced him to life in prison, where he died in January 2001 at age 80.