As the first NAACP field secretary in the southern United States, Evers had the unenviable task of recruiting new members to work for progress under the constant threat of physical, social, and economic retaliation.
He didn’t just sign up a few folks - he passionately DOUBLED the NAACP membership in the state of Mississippi to approximately 15,000 change agents ready to work for freedom and progress.
When a 14-year-old Emmett Till was murdered by two white men in Money, Mississippi, Evers took on the local criminal justice system, supervising the NAACP’s independent investigation and protecting witnesses crucial to any hope of convicting Till’s killers.
When the University of Mississippi refused admission to James Meredith, it was Evers who helped get his integration case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
After the Court ruled in Meredith’s favor, the mob that met them at class registration was so intense, 30,000 National Guardsmen had to be called onto the scene. Still, Evers fought on for justice - until an assassin’s bullet ended his life in 1963.
His voter registration drives, business boycotts, desegregation work, and investigation efforts were so successful in demanding greater power for Black people that it is only fitting his legacy be honored long after his untimely death.