Armed Black Christians Fought the KKK and Other Struggles for Freedom
History Battle of Black Race for Liberty and Justice

History Battle of Black Race for Liberty and Justice

Khalid Elhassan - May 12, 2020

History Battle of Black Race for Liberty and Justice
Medgar Evers. FBI

3. A Pioneering Civil Rights Activist

Medgar Wiley Evers (1925 – 1963) was a native of Decatur, Mississippi, who grew up and attended school in the days of Jim Crow. Racist laws required him to walk 12 miles every day to a dilapidated segregated school for blacks, rather than the better-funded school closer to his home that was reserved for white students.

After graduating high school, Evers was inducted into the US Army in 1943 and sent to the European Theater of Operations. There, he fought in the Normandy Campaign, and served throughout the remainder of the war in France and Germany, before being honorably discharged at the war’s end as a sergeant.

History Battle of Black Race for Liberty and Justice
Medgar Evers. YouTube

2. Fighting For Freedom Overseas, While Deprived of Freedom at Home

Despite risking his life to free others from a racist tyranny overseas, Medgar Evers returned after war’s end to a racial tyranny at home that denied him basic freedom and equality because of the color of his skin. He became a civil rights activist, and protested the racism of his era and area by organizing demonstrations and drawing attention to the grave injustices stemming from Jim Crow laws.

He also organized boycotts of companies that practiced discrimination, sought to end segregation in public places, and strove to integrate state-funded schools. He applied to the segregated University of Mississippi Law School in 1954, and when his application was rejected, he fought in the courts. His case contributed to the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawing segregation in public schools that year. He would go on to play an instrumental role in desegregating Mississippi’s public schools.

History Battle of Black Race for Liberty and Justice
Medgar Evers’ driveway, where he was murdered. UPI

1. Civil Rights Fight

Medgar Evers worked to overcome the disenfranchisement of blacks in Mississippi by organizing voter registration drives. He also organized boycotts, such as that of gas stations that denied blacks the use of their restrooms. Protesting injustice and rocking the boat has seldom been popular, and in late May, 1963, a Molotov cocktail was thrown into Evers’ garage. A week later, somebody tried to run him over as he left the NAACP office in Jackson, Mississippi. A week after, on June 12th, 1963, Evers was shot to death on his driveway by a KKK member.

As a World War II veteran, Evers was buried with military honors in Arlington National Cemetery, but he was not honored by the justice system. Despite the Klansman’s fingerprints on the murder weapon, and notwithstanding that he had publicly boasted of the murder, all-white juries twice deadlocked in 1964 and failed to reach a verdict. Evers’ killer remained free until 1994, when a third trial, this time before a racially mixed jury, finally secured a murder conviction.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

American Revolution Org – The Revolution’s Black Soldiers

Black Past – Deacons For Defense and Justice

Cobb, Charles E. – This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible (2015)

Egerton, Douglas R. – Death of Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America (2009)

Face 2 Face Africa – The Deacons; the Black Armed Christians Who Protected MLK, Civil Rights Supporters Before Black Panthers

Holway, John B. – Red Tail, Black Wings: The Men of America’s Black Air Force (1997)

Horne, Gerald – The Counter Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America (2014)

Journal of Military History, 63, July 2003 – Jim Crow and Uncle Sam: The Tuskegee Flying Units and the US Army Air Forces in Europe in World War II

NAACP History – Medgar Evers

Nation, The, June 17th, 2004 – By Any Means Necessary

Schama, Simon – Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution (2006)

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum – Black Wings: African American Pioneer Aviators

War History Online – Fought Japanese in China When 15, Then Franco in Spain, and in WWII Europe Killed 6 Germans and Took 2 POW

Wikipedia – Colonel Tye

Wikipedia – Edward A. Carter, Jr.

Wikipedia – Tuskegee Airmen