Charles Evers death: Veteran civil rights leader, whose brother was assassinated in 1963, dies aged 97

He served as first black mayor in Mississippi in 1969

James Crump
Thursday 23 July 2020 21:51
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Civil rights icon John Lewis dies aged 80

Civil rights leader and longtime Mississippi politician Charles Evers died this week at the age of 97.

Evers was the older brother of civil rights icon and Mississippi National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) leader Medgar Evans, who was assassinated in 1963 outside his home in the state.

After his brother’s death, Evers who became NAACP’s state voter registration chairman in 1954, took more leadership roles in the civil rights movement and succeeded his brother as the organisation’s Mississippi field director.

Evers made history in the civil rights movement when he became the first black mayor in Mississippi, when he was elected in the city of Fayette in 1969.

He was named Man of the Year in 1969 by the NAACP, and served as Fayette mayor for 16 years in two different periods until 1989.

Evers publicly backed both prominent Democrats and Republicans during his life and endorsed Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama and most recently Donald Trump in 2016.

His death came a few days after civil rights leader and Georgia congressman John Lewis died at the age of 80.

Lewis was still a prominent politicial figure up until his death and was best known as one of six leaders who organised the 1963 March on Washington.

Political figures in Mississippi, where Evers’ presence was felt long after he lost his position as mayor, paid tribute to him following his death.

Mississippi governor Tate Reeves wrote on Twitter “Rest In Peace, Charles Evers. He was a civil rights leader and a true friend to me and so many Mississippians. His memory will always be cherished and honoured.”

Republican Mississippi senator Roger Wickers released a statement following the news of Evers’ death, where he wrote: “Charles Evers was an absolute classic. His rich and colourful story makes him unique among our state’s historical figures.”

He added: “As an elected official he navigated the circuitous route from Freedom Democrat to Independent to Republican, even serving as a Trump elector in 2016. He used his powerful personality and platform to change Mississippi for the better.”

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