Civil rights pioneer Medgar Evers remembered - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Civil rights pioneer Medgar Evers remembered

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A host of dignitaries gathered at Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday to remember the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

Evers was shot to death in his driveway in Jackson, Miss., by a white supremacist.

Evers is buried at Arlington Cemetery, in part, because he fought with the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II. When Evers came back to his native Mississippi, he found, like most black residents, that he could not vote nor could he attend law school at the University of Mississippi.

Former President Bill Clinton escorted the widow of Medgar Evers to the memorial event at Arlington Cemetery.

It was 50 years ago this week that the NAACP field organizer was shot in the back in his driveway in Jackson, Miss., after attending a civil rights organizing meeting.

The current governor of Mississippi praised the civil rights martyr.

“Medgar and Myrlie Evers were compelled to pay the highest price upon the altar of freedom," said Gov. Phil Bryant (R -- Miss.) "But our world has been changed by that sacrifice. Today, Mississippi stands together with determination to create a brighter future for all its people."

Evers was only 37 years old when he was killed. But his efforts to establish voting rights and civil rights for black Americans should endure. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told the crowd at Arlington: “Today's ceremony presents us an important opportunity to recommit ourselves -- and to recommit our great nation -- to the principles that he lived and died to defend."

Evers survived two earlier assassination attempts for daring to challenge racial segregation in stores and state universities. Clinton, who also spoke at the ceremony, told the crowd, "The next time you hear people complaining around Washington about what a rough business democracy is -- we might do well to remember what it was like 50 years ago. And the sacrifices that were made."

White supremacist Byron de la Beckwith was tried twice (in the 1960s) for the murder of Evers, but two all-white juries could not come to a verdict. 30 years later in 1994, with new evidence (including Beckwith's bragging about the killing), he was convicted, jailed and later died in prison.

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