The Pardu

Jon S. Randal: US History, Civil Rights And Medgar Evers

In Jon S. Randal, Medgar Evers, NAACP field secretary on July 3, 2015 at 12:52 AM




Re Post from Friend of the TPI, Jon S. Randal
He loved his country, he believed in his country. As a young man, he was a hero, fighting bravely for his country during World War II, dodging bullets at Normandy. But, when he returned home, he never realized he would have to dodge bullets and bombs in his own country, fighting for his own rights and the rights of his own countrymen. His name is Medgar Evers, and he was born on this day, July 2, 1925.

Evers, a civil rights activist and NAACP field secretary, fought for equality on many levels, from organizing voter drives and protests against discrimination, to calling for legal investigations into school segregation and the lynching of Emmett Till. He also stood side-by-side with federal marshals when James Meredith attempted to enroll at the University of Mississippi, and he was involved in the now-famous integrated sit-in at the downtown Woolworth.

He would survive a Molotov cocktail thrown at his home. He would be almost run down by a car after he emerged from a NAACP office. But, he would never give in. NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said that Evers was continually fighting, fighting for recognition for his fellow countrymen, fighting to expand the vote, and fighting to put an end to Jim Crow. He fought knowing death could come at any moment.

That moment arrived, June 12, 1963, after President John F. Kennedy pleaded with the American people to become a more humane citizenry with regard to race relations, officially supporting civil rights. After the President’s speech, after finally hearing that progress was being made, Evers was returning home from a meeting, hoping to hug his wife and his children waiting for him.

He never got to the front door. After pulling into the driveway and emerging from his car, Evers was struck in the back with a bullet fired from an Enfield 1917 rifle. He managed to stagger a few feet, to try to reach his front door, to try to reach his family, before he collapsed.

He was taken to the local hospital where he was initially refused entry because of his race.

Evers’s funeral attracted more than 5,000 mourners and hundreds more greeted his body in Washington, DC, where it had been transported by train for a hero’s burial at America’s final resting place, Arlington National Cemetery.

On the very day that Evers was laid to rest, President Kennedy sent his civil rights legislation to Congress. The next day, the President invited Evers’ widow and her children to visit him at the White House to express to them personally his sympathies for the loss of their beloved husband and father. He would hand Mrs. Evers a copy of a document, which would ultimately become the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

President Kennedy would also not live to see the Civil Rights Act become law. But, when it was time for President Johnson to sign it, it is said that White House advisers recommended that he wait to sign the bill until America’s birthday, July 4th. But Johnson, not wanting to delay the enactment of such an important law, could not wait. He would sign it within hours of its arrival on his desk, which would be July 2, the same day Medgar Evers was born.
Evers was called “a hero among heroes in the struggle for civil and human rights,” and the anniversary of his birthday is now also the anniversary of one of the laws he fought and died for – the Civil Rights Act. He was a hero when he fought for his country, and he was a hero when he died for his country – He will always remain a hero.

Jon S. Randal's photo.


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