Medgar Evers : Mississippi Martyr
Booklist Reviews 2011 November #2
When Medgar Evers was assassinated in 1963, he had been engaged for much of his life with resisting racial injustice in Mississippi, having grown up in a family of resisters. He preceded James Meredith in efforts to integrate Ole Miss when he applied to law school before settling into a career as the first full-time field secretary for the NAACP in his home state, strategizing on potential cases to challenge discrimination, leading voting-rights drives, and helping to investigate rapes, murders, and lynchings. As whites mounted violent resistance and more aggressive groups, including SCLC, moved into Mississippi, Evers chafed under the restrictions of the NAACP, at one point even considering leaving the group and forming his own organization. Reacting to the constant threats of violence, despite the NAACP policy of nonviolence, Evers armed in preparation for a race war if it came to that. Historian Williams draws on previously unavailable archival materials and interviews with Evers' widow, family, and colleagues to offer a detailed portrait of a complex man, determined to stay in Mississippi and fight racial injustice, whatever the personal cost. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2011 November #1
Medgar Evers (1925–63) served as the NAACP's first field secretary in Mississippi until an assassin shot him down in the driveway of his Jackson home, within view of his wife, Myrlie, and children. Williams (history & African American studies, Mississippi State Univ.) unfolds Evers's life as a tour—geographical, emotional, and psychological—of whites' violent oppression of blacks in the segregated South and of the committed black resistance. He views Evers's life from his Mississippi Delta childhood to his life in Jackson, the state capital, and, through Jim Crow's domestic killing fields, filling out our historical memory of the social environment and political action that produced the tragedies and triumphs of the post-World War II Civil Rights Movement. VERDICT Williams's work tops what have been too few head-on examinations of the substance and significance of this martyr's sacrifice, a man who demonstrated the truth he liked to repeat: "You can kill a man, but you can't kill an idea." General readers and scholars will benefit from reading this work alongside The Autobiography of Medgar Evers, edited by Myrlie Evers-Williams and Manning Marable.—Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe[Page 84]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2011 September #4
Williams, a professor of history and African American Studies at Mississippi State University, offers a scrupulously researched biography of the civil rights pioneer Medgar Evers (1925–1963), who heroically reported on the lynchings, rapes, and murders of black Mississippians and organized civil disobedience in the streets of Jackson. His early life was marked by racial violence so severe, says Williams, that for Evers, "the question always remained, how far could you push before whites killed you?" and it is this that fueled his activism. From selling the Chicago Defender, the preeminent black newspaper of the prewar era, to his accession to Mississippi field secretary for the NAACP, Evers never gave up the struggle to "form a new Mississippi that embraced all its citizens equally." The story of this admirable and principled man, whose nine years in a leadership post at the front lines of the civil rights struggle in "what could be historically termed the most racially oppressive state in America" ended at the age of 37 when he was shot dead by a white supremacist. Even if the book occasionally sacrifices smooth narrative for scholarly rigor and documentation, it's an important and readable study of this seminal leader and the history of the civil rights movement. (Nov.)[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC