The Assassination of Medgar Evers

The day after the Racial Unity Leadership Summit prayer retreat made a pilgrimage through sites associated with the murder of Emmet Till, we made a pilgrimage to the home of Medgar Evers. The picture here is one I took of the house.

Medgar Evers was a veteran of World War II and had fought in the battle of Normandy. He was honorably discharged as a sergeant. Upon returning home, Evers took advantage of the GI Bill to get a college degree in 1952.

Medgar Evers was one of many successful and accomplished Black war veterans who chaffed upon returning home to the Jim Crow South. Black solders had bled and died for the United States, but they found themselves quickly forced back into the American apartheid system. Many of these veterans were lynched because they pushed back so fiercely upon returning home.

In 1955 Evers became the first NAACP field secretary in the state of Mississippi, the most lethal state to work as a civil rights activist. Evers became a fearless champion of civil rights, organizing voting registrations, managing boycotts, guiding protests, challenging segregation, and starting local chapters of the NAACP.

All this work made Evers a target of the Klu Klux Klan. Evers faced constant death threats. In 1963 a Molotov cocktail was thrown at his home. He was one of the most courageous heroes of the civil rights era.

On the night of June 12, 1963, the same evening John F. Kennedy made his nationally televised Civil Rights address, Evers came home, pulled into his driveway, and exited his car. His wife and three children were asleep inside the house. Across the street, Klansman Byron De La Beck was waiting. Seeing Evers leave the car, De La Beck fired his Enfield 1917 rifle.

The bullet pierced Evers's heart, exited his body, went through the front of the house, passed through the living room, punched a hole in the wall, entered the kitchen, and finally struck the refrigerator.

When you visit Medgar Evers's home you can see the bullet hole in the wall between the living room and the kitchen. Knowing where that hole is, you can stand outside and trace the path of the bullet from the house across the street where the shot was fired all the way to the kitchen refrigerator.

Tracing that melancholy line, you can stand at the exact spot on the driveway where Medgar Evers was assassinated.

Of all the things we witnessed during our travels at the retreat, that bullet hole in the wall continues to haunt me.

It's just a small hole, but it remains and represents an evil scar that has not healed.

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