Lawyers’ Committee Honors Life and Legacy of Medgar Evers, 50th Anniversary of His Assassination

Today, June 12, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, who worked tirelessly to secure equal rights in the state of Mississippi. After becoming the first state field secretary of the NAACP in Mississippi, Evers organized and participated in voter-registration efforts, demonstrations, and economic boycotts of companies that practiced discrimination. Evers also worked to investigate crimes perpetrated against African Americans.

In the summer of 1963 demands for racial justice were increasingly being met with lawless intimidation and violence, and immediate action was needed. On June 11th President John F. Kennedy gave a nationally televised speech on civil rights stating that “it is better to settle these matters in the courts than on the streets.” Tragically, only hours after Kennedy’s speech, Evers was assassinated by a member of the White Citizens’ Council.

The murder of Evers played an essential role in the formation of the Lawyers’ Committee. Shortly after President Kennedy heard the news of the assassination, he called for the best and the brightest attorneys in the nation to attend a historic meeting at the White House and urged them to defend the rule of law and the rights of civil rights demonstrators. Within a week, the Lawyers’ Committee was formed to obtain equal opportunity for minorities by leveraging the pro bono resources of the private bar to address legal factors that contribute to racial justice.

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