Martha Bergmark: Remembering Medgar Everstags: civil rights, Guardian (UK), Mississippi, Medgar Evers, Martha Bergmark
Martha Bergmark is founding president and CEO of the Mississippi Center for Justice, a nonprofit public interest law firm committed to advancing racial and economic justice.
On this day, 50 years ago, I was a white teenager in Jackson, Mississippi, absorbed most of the time with the typical concerns of childhood. But I vividly remember 12 June 1963, because that night my family and I heard the news that Medgar Evers, a well-known civil rights leader in our state, had been shot and killed in the driveway of his home, just a few miles from where we lived.
Evers fought in the US army in Europe during the second world war, only to return home to a state where slavery had been replaced by Jim Crow laws that institutionalized discrimination in every aspect of life. Before long, he applied unsuccessfully to become the first African American to attend the law school at Ole Miss. There, he led sit-ins and boycotts of businesses that practiced segregation – even though he knew that challenging the white power structure could cost him his life.
For many of us, white as well as black, the assassination of Medgar Evers was a turning-point. We were forced to ask ourselves with regard to the growing civil rights movement, "Where do I stand, and what am I willing to risk?"...
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