Medgar and Myrlie Evers are widely regarded as two of the greatest leaders of the civil rights movement. Medgar Evers was a pioneering visionary for civil rights in the 1950s and early 1960s in Mississippi. From the beginning, Myrlie Evers worked alongside her husband. In the years following his assassination, she continued the pioneering work they had begun together.
Medgar Evers was born on July 2, 1925 in Decatur, Mississippi. He was the third of five children of Jesse and James Evers. His family owned a small farm, and his dad also worked at a sawmill.
Medgar Evers was a pioneering visionary for civil right in the 1950s and early 1960s in Mississippi. As the state’s first field secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), he was one of the most visible leaders in the civil rights movement in America.
His assassination on June 12, 1963 galvanized President John F. Kennedy to ask Congress for a comprehensive civil rights bill, which was signed into law the following year by President Lyndon Johnson.
From the beginning, Myrlie Evers worked alongside her husband, Medgar. In the years following his assassination, she continued the pioneering work they had begun together. An author, lecturer, and educator, she was one of the first African American women to run for Congress. She made significant strides in corporate America as Director for Community Affairs at the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) in the 1970s. In 1995, she was elected chairperson of the NAACP and helped rebuild and restore the national reputation of the organization.
In 1989, she founded the Medgar Evers Institute, with the initial goal of preserving and advancing the legacy of Medgar Evers’ life’s work. Upon the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Medgar Evers, and recognizing the international leadership role of Myrlie Evers, the Institute’s board of directors changed the organization’s name to the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute. She currently serves as chairman of the Institute, with the mission of championing civil rights with a focus on history, education, and reconciliation, especially among young people.