—Mississippi Freedom Trail —
Medgar and Myrlie Evers moved into this
home with their children - Darrell and Reena -
in 1955 after Medgar became Mississippi's first
NAACP Field Secretary. Son Van was born in
1960. Evers was an outspoken activist for
voter registration and social justice. Just after
midnight, on June 12, 1963, he was assassinated
in the driveway as he returned from a meeting.
After his death, the family moved to California
and deeded the home to Tougaloo College
as an historic house museum.
Medgar Evers Home This three-bedroom home was in the first middle-class subdivision built by black developers in Jackson. Medgar Wiley Evers, a U.S. Army veteran, used a Veterans Administration loan to purchase the home. Some feared that his presence might endanger the neighborhood because his work for the NAACP was well known. Intimidation, employment reprisals, and violence were real threats to those who dared to challenge the customs and laws of segregation.
The family quickly
settled into the neighborhood and made friends. Moving from an apartment, they were pleased to have room for the growing family. Medgar Evers' wife, Myrlie, had stopped working
full-time after Reena was born but continued to help her husband in his office. At the Evers home the telephone was a frequent interruption; in addition, Medgar sometimes brought colleagues home for meals and meetings. As the family watched television together, he explained news accounts about civil rights activities to the children.
Speaking at mass meetings, documenting acts of brutality, working with the NAACP legal defense team, encouraging voter registration, and coordinating protests required Evers to be away a great deal. But his work paid off, and legal racial barriers began to fall—most notably James Meredith's admission to the University of Mississippi in 1962.
With success in these efforts, however, came increased tension and apprehension. The children were taught precautions, such as dropping to the floor and crawling to safety in the bathtub when they heard loud noises.
They avoided sitting in the living room near the large window. One evening a firebomb exploded in the carport, and Myrlie rushed outside to put out he flames with the garden hose. The police dismissed the incident as a prank. A few weeks later, Medgar Evers was murdered in the driveway, shot with a high-powered rifle by an assassin hiding across the street.
Earlier that evening, Myrlie and the children had watched President John F. Kennedy deliver a televised speech announcing his introduction of a civil rights bill. It would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson after Kennedy's assassination.
Evers was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Byron De La Beckwith was charged with the murder; after two hung juries in 1964, he was finally convicted in 1994 of Evers' murder.