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Evers, Charles

Evers, Charles

September 11, 1922


Born in 1922 to an impoverished farm family in Decatur, Mississippi, civil rights leader James Charles Evers gained national prominence in 1969 when he was elected mayor of Fayette, Mississippi. Fayette was then a town of two thousand, of whom twelve hundred were African American. Evers's victory helped open the way for many black candidates who had long desired political office but who had been restricted by racial discrimination. Since Reconstruction, white southerners had prevented African Americans not just from campaigning for public office but even from exercising their constitutional right to vote. Evers became the first black mayor since Reconstruction of a biracial Mississippi town.

In 1971 the Mississippi Democratic Party unanimously nominated Evers as its candidate for governor. Although he lost the election, he was the first African American in the history of the state to be a gubernatorial candidate. From 1973 to 1981 and from 1985 to 1987, Evers served again as mayor of Fayette.

Evers first attained national recognition when he replaced his slain younger brother, Medgar Evers (widely believed to have been assassinated by a white supremacist), as Mississippi field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The elder brother, who had been in business in Chicago, returned to his home state to devote his life to the nonviolent struggle for racial equality and social justice. Toward these ends, Evers successfully led numerous boycotts and voter-registration drives. He has also served as Jefferson County, Mississippi, chancery clerk administrator. In 1997 Evers published his autobiography, Have No Fear: The Charles Evers Story.

See also Civil Rights Movement, U.S.; Evers, Medgar; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

Bibliography

Berry, Jason. Amazing Grace: With Charles Evers in Mississippi. New York: Saturday Review Press, 1973.

Evers, Charles, and Grace Haskell, eds. Evers. New York: World, 1971.

Evers, Charles, and Andrew Szanton. Have No Fear: The Charles Evers Story. New York: Wiley, 1997.

lois lyles (1996)
Updated by publisher 2005

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