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Medgar EversMedgar Evers

Mississippi Martyr

Michael Vinson Williams

Narrated by Brandon Church

Available from Audible

Book published by The University of Arkansas Press

Civil rights activist Medgar Wiley Evers was well aware of the dangers he would face when he challenged the status quo in Mississippi in the 1950s and ‘60s, a place and time known for the brutal murders of Emmett Till, Reverend George Lee, Lamar Smith, and others. Nonetheless, Evers consistently investigated the rapes, murders, beatings, and lynchings of black Mississippians and reported the horrid incidents to a national audience, all the while organizing economic boycotts, sit-ins, and street protests in Jackson as the NAACP’s first full-time Mississippi field secretary. He organized and participated in voting drives and nonviolent direct-action protests, joined lawsuits to overturn state-supported school segregation, and devoted himself to a career path that cost him his life.

This biography of an important civil rights leader draws on personal interviews from Myrlie Evers-Williams (Evers’s widow), his two remaining siblings, friends, grade-school-to-college schoolmates, and fellow activists to elucidate Evers as an individual, leader, husband, brother, and father. Extensive archival work in the Evers Papers, the NAACP Papers, oral history collections, FBI files, Citizen Council collections, and the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission Papers, to list a few, provides a detailed account of Evers’s NAACP work and a clearer understanding of the racist environment that ultimately led to his murder.

Michael Vinson Williams is assistant professor of history and African American studies at Mississippi State University.


“A well-written and informative installment in a prolific civil rights scholarship.... an accessible volume for a wide range of historians.”

—H-NET Reviews

“The first substantial scholarly biography of Medgar Evers…. Will be the standard reference for some time to come.”

The Journal of Southern History

“An important and readable study of this seminal leader and the history of the civil rights movement.”

Publishers Weekly

“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…”

Library Journal

“Masterful… Williams’s great achievement here is in recognizing that Evers was more than just a symbol of resistance. With Mississippi Martyr, he has written the seminal work on the life of Medgar Wiley Evers.”

Arkansas Review

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University Press Audiobooks