Remembering Medgar Evers 50 Years Later
Fifty years ago today, a coward killed a hero.
As he got out of his car after returning home from an NAACP meeting, Medgar Evers was shot in the back. He had done nothing to provoke or warrant this heinous attack. Nothing that is, except fight passionately for desegregation and fair voting rights in Jackson, Mississippi — at the time, one of the most virulently racist cities in the deep south.
Medgar Evers bravely blazed a trail that enabled so many triumphs over hate and inequality. What we have accomplished together was possible because of his work and his leadership.
On the anniversary of his death, we must do more than simply remember him — we honor his memory by continuing to fight for the rights he died for. Medgar Evers championed the belief that the right to vote goes deeper than the color of a person's skin. Codifying this belief into law may not have been possible without his work.
Now, half a century after his death, we still face significant efforts to disenfranchise millions of Americans. At least 31 states are considering laws that make it harder for people of color and young, elderly, and disabled citizens to vote. An upcoming decision from the Supreme Court on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act may make the implementation of these state laws easier than ever before.
So we're redoubling our efforts, because all our children deserve to grow up in a country where their voting rights are protected, and where they are respected and supported no matter what race or color they may be.
Fifty years ago today, a coward killed a hero, but he didn't kill a movement. We will stand tall and remain firm in our commitment to ensure that every citizen has both the right to vote and the ability to exercise it without interference.
Benjamin Todd Jealous is President and CEO, NAACP