The answer to today’s trivia is (C.) Charles Evers. Special thanks to local artist/architect, Jeffrey Yentz, for being kind enough to draw another portrait and write another narrative for our trivia!
You can hear Mr. Evers on the airwaves of West Jackson-based WMPR (90.1 FM) on Wednesday nights from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
More trivia coming your way next week!
JAMES CHARLES EVERS
James Charles Evers (September 11, 1922) and younger brother Medgar were
born and raised in Decatur, Mississippi. They then served in the U.S. Army in
World War II and returned back home afterwards.
During his tenure in the military, Charles fell in love with a Filipino
woman, but the relationship was unrequited since (because of her “white” skin
color) he could not return to Mississippi with her as his bride.
[NOTE: Charles resolve was based on the prevalent Jim Crow Laws. Two such
INTERMARRIAGE: The marriage of a white person with a Negro or mulatto or
person who shall have one-eighth or more of Negro blood, shall be unlawful
PROMOTION OF EQUALITY: Any person ... who shall be guilty of printing,
publishing or circulating printed, typewritten or written matter urging or
presenting for public acceptance or general information, arguments or
suggestions in favor of social equality or of intermarriage between whites
and Negroes, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to fines or not
exceeding five hundred (500.00) dollars or imprisonment not exceeding six
(6) months or both.]
Upon their return from the war, the brothers began organizing voter
registration drives, focusing on trying to mobilize the vote for the 1946
elections but they were turned away at the polling station by armed whites.
Such a reaction at the time was to be expected, but such an event was bound to further solidify the Evers’s passion for civil rights.
This prompted the brothers to realize the benefits of furthering their education and so they both attended the Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University located in Lorman, Mississippi). Both brothers graduated in 1950. Medgar was a newlywed. He and his bridge moved to Mound Bayou and Charles relocated to Philadelphia, Mississippi (about 26 miles North of Decatur).
In 1951 both brothers became active on the Regional Council of Negro
Leadership (RCNL). The RCNL was a civil rights organization that promoted self-help and business ownership to African-Americans. Charles often spoke at the RCNL’s annual conferences in Mound Bayou, MS on a variety of issues but more often than naught on voting rights.
Charles became involved in a variety of jobs ranging from cotton picker to
dishwasher to bootlegger to short order cook all the while becoming both
interested and involved in the National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People (NAACP). Around 1956, Charles got in a modicum of trouble in Philadelphia (primarily on his civil rights activism) and ended up relocating to Chicago, Illinois. He remained there until an assassin
murdered his brother in 1963 at which time Charles relocated back to
Mississippi and took over Medgar’s position as State Field Secretary for the
NAACP’s Mississippi chapter.
During this time Charles and other prominent civil rights leaders such as
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ms. Fannie Lou Hamer, Mr. Aaron Henry, Ralph
Abernathy, and many others worked to break down the barriers of segregation, poverty, and racism throughout the South.
In 1969, Charles ran for and was elected mayor of Fayette, Mississippi
(about 9 miles South of Lorman). He became the first post-Reconstruction
African American mayor in the State’s history. He served as mayor for the
next 12 years, then attempted an unsuccessful 1971 run for governor of
Mississippi and then ran in 1978 for Senate seat (placing third in the
vote). Lastly, in 1985, he successfully ran for mayor in Fayette.
[NOTE: The NAACP named Charles 1969 Man of the Year and John Updike
mentioned Evers in his novel; Rabbit Redux.]
An interesting aside to Charles is that he served as an informal advisor to
a diverse group of politicians. President Lyndon Johnson, President Ronald
Reagan, Senator Robert Kennedy, Governor George Wallace, etc.
In November 1987 (after his stint in political office), Charles affiliated
with and became station manager of WMPR 90.1 FM. He brought a wealth of
experience, knowledge, and expertise to the Jackson community. This role is
not too far fetched since he was a disc jockey in 1949-1950 for
Philadelphia, MS radio station WHOC. He hosts the weekly “Let’s Talk” show
featuring a call in segment as well as local and national guests.
Charles and B.B. King sponsor the three-day annual Medgar Evers Homecoming Festival held the first week of June. The gala features parades, gospel festivities, and a blues show celebrating the life and times of the late
civil rights activist Medgar Evers.
I hope you enjoyed the drawing and narrative.