By Christopher Zoukis
It happened like this: In the evening hours of June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers attended a meeting of civil rights workers at a church in Jackson, Mississippi. At the same time, his wife and children were at home, watching as President John F. Kennedy gave a televised speech on civil rights. Image courtesy www.glogster.com
When the meeting was over, Medgar Evers drove to his house. He parked the car in his driveway. As Evers got out of his car, Delay was waiting across the way, hidden in a clump of honeysuckle vines. In his hands, Delay held an Enfield 1917 rifle, .303 caliber, as cited in court records. Delay took aim and fired. The bullet smashed into Evers’s back, tore through his chest and exited, leaving a gaping wound. Evers dropped like a sack of potatoes.
Subsequent police reports outlined the following scenario: Mortally wounded, yet still alive, Evers dragged himself toward his house. He never made it. His ebbing strength failed him and he stopped just short of the steps to the door, which was where his wife found him a short while later. Rushed to the hospital, Evers died approximately one hour after being shot.
Medgar Evers was a determined man, as his final crawl toward his house indicated. For Evers wanted to be somebody and to make a difference. Inducted into the Army in 1943, Evers saw action in France. Discharged in 1945, Evers went home to Decatur, Mississippi. In a way, Evers’s life mirrored that of Byron de la Beckwith. Both were passionate. Both served their country in WWII. It’s after their discharges that their stories diverged.