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Medgar Evers (1925-1963) and the Mississippi Press

Description: Medgar Evers was gunned down in front of his home in June 1963, a murder that went unpunished for almost thirty years. Assassinated at the height of the civil rights movement, Evers is a relatively untreated figure in either popular or academic writing. This dissertation includes three themes. Evers's death defined his life, particularly his public role. The other two themes define his relationship with the press in Mississippi (and its structure), and his relationship to the various civil rights organizations, including his employer, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Was the newspaper press, both state and national, fair in its treatment of Evers? Did the press use Evers to further the civil rights agenda or to retard that movement, and was Evers able to employ the press as a public relations tool in promoting the NAACP agenda? The obvious answers have been that the Mississippi press editors and publishers defended segregation and that Evers played a minor role in the civil rights movement. Most newspaper publishers and editorial writers slanted the news to promote segregation but not all newspapers editors. The Carters of Greenville, J. Oliver Emmerich of McComb and weekly editors Ira Harkey and Hazel Brannon Smith denounced the segregationist groups. Evers, too, is not easily defined. His life's work produced few results but his mere presence in the most racist state in the country provided other civil rights organizers with an example of personal strength and fortitude unmatched in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The dissertation reviewed the existing primary and secondary source material, and included personal interviews with primary participants in the Jackson boycotts of 1963. Evers compares with Abraham Lincoln in that both received little credit for their accomplishments until more than thirty years after their assassinations. Both represented the democratic ...
Date: December 1996
Creator: Tisdale, John Rochelle, 1958-