Civil rights activist Medgar Evers was born on July 2, 1925, in Decatur, Mississippi. In 1954, he became the first state field secretary of the NAACP in Mississippi. As such, he organized voter-registration efforts, demonstrations, and economic boycotts of companies that practiced discrimination. He also worked to investigate crimes perpetrated against blacks. Growing up in a Mississippi farming family, Evers was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943. He fought in both France and Germany during World War II, and received an honorable discharge in 1946. In 1948, he entered Alcorn College (now Alcorn State University) in Lorman, Mississippi. During his senior year, Evers married a fellow student, Myrlie Beasley. They later had three children: Darrell, Reena and James. Evers was a respected, brave, and honest man.
Evers applied to the University of Mississippi Law School in February 1954. After being rejected, he volunteered to help NAACP try to integrate the university with a lawsuit. Thurgood Marshall served as his attorney for this legal challenge to racial discrimination. While he failed to gain admission to the law school, Evers managed to raise his profile with the NAACP. In May 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in the famous Brown v. Board of Education case. This decision legally ended segregation of schools, but it took many years for it to be fully implemented.
Due to his high-profile position with the NAACP, Evers became a target for those who opposed racial equality and desegregation. He and his family were subjected to numerous threats and violent actions over the years, including a firebombing of their house in May 1963. At 12:40 a.m. on June 12, 1963, Evers was shot in the back in the driveway of his home in Jackson. He died less than a hour later at a nearby hospital.