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THE NATION

Medgar Evers' Widow Donates Documents

April 27, 2002|From Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. — Showing how much times have changed, the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers donated his papers to the state of Mississippi.

"This is where they belong," Myrlie Evers-Williams told a racially mixed crowd Thursday as she gave Evers' letters, speeches and notes, as well as her own papers and photos, to the state Department of Archives and History. In all, she gave 55 boxes of materials that will become available to researchers next year.

Evers, field secretary for the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, was shot in the back June 12, 1963, while standing in the driveway of his Jackson home with an armful of "Jim Crow Must Go" T-shirts.

Evers-Williams, who left Mississippi with the couple's three children after her husband died, was national NAACP chairwoman from 1995 to 1998.

She said her husband always believed his home state could rise above its racial division. Mississippi has embraced change in the last four decades and still has more progress to make, she said.

The state archive houses the papers of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, but until now it has had no papers from national civil rights leaders.

Evers' killer, Byron De La Beckwith, was freed after two all-white juries failed to convict him in the 1960s. Then in the early 1990s, documents of a state spy agency, the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, revealed that agents worked to get Beckwith acquitted. He was indicted again and convicted in 1994. Beckwith was serving a life term when he died in prison last year.

Former Gov. William Winter, a longtime member of the Archives and History Board of Trustees, said Medgar Evers "gave his life in his quest to free us all--black and white folks alike--from the bondage of racial segregation and discrimination. He was a true hero."

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