MEDGAR EVERS: “WHAT THEN DOES THE NEGRO WANT?”

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[Celebrating Black History Month\Medgar Evers]
Medgar Evers: "The Negro has been here in America since 1619, a total of 344 years. He is not going anywhere else; this country is his home."
Photo: Facebook

Civil Rights leader, and NAACP Mississippi Field Secretary, Medgar Evers was gunned down in the driveway of his home on June 12, 1963, by white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith.

In honor of Black History Month, the Black Star News will be featuring speeches, interviews, poetry, etc. all month from important figures who fought for Black liberation and who represent the Black experience with honor.

The following is a from a 17-minute speech Evers gave on WLBT Radio, in Mississippi, on May 20, 1963, less than a month before his assassination.

"Tonight the Negro plantation worker in the Delta knows from his radio and television what happened today all over the world. He knows what Black people are doing and he knows what white people are doing. He can see on the 6:00 o’clock news screen the picture of a 3:00 o’clock bite by a police dog.

"He knows about the new free nations in Africa and knows that a Congo native can be a locomotive engineer, but in Jackson he cannot even drive a garbage truck.

"He sees a city over 150,000, of which 40% is Negro, in which there is not a single Negro policeman or policewoman, school crossing guard, fireman, clerk, stenographer or supervisor employed in any city department or the Mayor’s office in other than menial capacities . . .

"What then does the Negro want?

"He wants to get rid of racial segregation in Mississippi life . . . The Negro citizen wants to register and vote without special handicaps imposed on him alone . . . The Negro Mississippian wants more jobs above the menial level in stores where he spends his money.

"He believes that new industries that have come to Mississippi should employ him above the laboring category. He wants the public schools and colleges desegregated so that his children can receive the best education that Mississippi has to offer.

"The Negro has been here in America since 1619, a total of 344 years. He is not going anywhere else; this country is his home. . . Let me appeal to the consciences of many silent, responsible citizens of the white community who know that a victory for democracy in Jackson will be a victory for democracy everywhere."

Less than a month after this speech, on June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers was murdered.

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