Charles Evers

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James Charles Evers (born September 11, 1922) is an important civil rights advocate in the United States. The older brother of civil rights martyr Medgar Evers, Charles Evers is a leading civil rights spokesman within the Republican Party in his native Mississippi. He was the first African American elected since the Reconstruction era as mayor in a Mississippi city, in Fayette in 1969. He ran for governor in 1971 and the United States Senate in 1978, both times as an independent.

Contents

Early life and education

Born in Decatur, Mississippi, Evers had a strong, devoutly Christian mother and father.

During World War II, Charles and Medgar Evers both served in the U.S. Army. Charles fell in love with a Filipina woman overseas. They could not marry her and go to his native Mississippi because of her "white" skin color. Mississippi had enshrined Jim Crow rules in its constitution, which prohibited interracial marriages.

Career

In Mississippi about 1951, Charles and Medgar Evers grew interested in African freedom movements. They were interested in Jomo Kenyatta and the rise of the Kikuyu tribal resistance to colonialism in Kenya, known as the "Mau-Mau" Rebellion as it moved to open violence. Along with his brother, Charles became active in the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL), a civil rights organization that also promoted self-help and business ownership. He drew inspiration from Dr. T.R.M. Howard, the president of the RCNL, who was one the wealthiest blacks in the state. Between 1952 and 1955, Evers often spoke at the RCNL's annual conferences in Mound Bayou on such issues as voting rights.

Around 1956, Evers's entrepreneurial gifts and his civil rights activism landed him in trouble in Philadelphia, Mississippi. He left town and moved to Chicago. There, he vowed to support the movement back home, and fell into a life of hustling, running numbers for the Mob, and managing prostitutes. The money he made was said to have been substantial, and much of it was sent back to help the Civil Rights Movement.

In 1963, Byron De La Beckwith shot Medgar Evers as he arrived home from work. Evers died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. Charles Evers was shocked and deeply upset by news of his brother's death. Over the opposition of more establishment figures in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) like Roy Wilkins, Charles took over Medgar's post as head of the NAACP in Mississippi.

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