"MEDGAR'S DEATH MADE ONE POINT CLEAR… I HAD TO CHANGE MISSISSIPPI": FIRST EDITION OF EVERS, A MEMOIR BY THE BROTHER OF MEDGAR EVERS, SIGNED BY CHARLES EVERS
(MEDGAR EVERS) EVERS, Charles. Evers. New York and Cleveland: World, 1971. Octavo, original white cloth, photographic endpapers, original dust jacket. $1250.
First edition of Charles Evers' complicated memoir of his brother, his explosive rage at Medgar Ever's murder, and his own resolve to continue his brother's work, noting—"racists can’t kill all of us who believe in freedom"—signed by him on his photographic image in the book's opening pastedown.
Charles Evers always felt protective of his younger brother Medgar. In this extraordinary memoir he recalls of one of their last phone calls. Charles, then in Chicago, urged Medgar to be careful: the KKK "down there are after you. And if they can stop you, they'll feel like they've got everything under control'… 'Don't worry about me,' he said, 'I'm going to make it.'" Before the phone call ended. "somehow we both wound up crying." Three days later his brother was murdered. Charles recalls blaming "every white man" and then blaming himself. "Medgar didn't carry a gun. I felt that if I'd stayed in Mississippi, Medgar wouldn't be gone… Medgar's death made one point clear to me. I had to change Mississippi… by giving Blacks the courage to get registered and start voting. I followed in Medgar's footsteps." Within months Charles, often described as Medgar's "wayward brother… picked up his brother's mantle" (Washington Post).
After replacing Medgar as Mississippi field director of the NAACP he notes his refusal to back down: "racists can't kill all of us who believe in freedom" He speaks of the murders of civil rights workers Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman, and his work on the ground desegregating businesses in Natchez. "Over the next decade, Evers became a nationally known civil rights figure in his own right. He was co-chairman of Robert Kennedy's Mississippi campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968" and in 1969 ran for mayor of Fayette, Mississippi (New York Times). "He delivered rousing, sermon-like speeches during his campaign, which was credited with inspiring more than 175 African Americans to run for office across the state. The growing Black political movement was described in the New York Times as 'the biggest threat to the local level white establishment since Reconstruction.' After he beat the longtime white incumbent, Evers "oversaw the building of a monument to his brother near another that honored the Confederate dead, an action that made him the target of death threats. He and his newly elected all-Black city council set to work on an economic revival strategy that involved lifting Black morale." Evers, who died in 2020, had a "complicated legacy," said historian Robert Luckett: one that symbolized "a Black man [willing] to speak up and make claim to power." Three decades after his brother' s assassination, "Charles Evers lived to see Byron De La Beckwith convicted of murder. Evers told a reporter that he was only sorry he couldn't personally execute the man. 'I believe in an eye for an eye,' he said, 'a life for a life'"(Washington Post). First edition: copyright page with "First printing—1971." Edited by journalist Grace Halsell from tape-recordings; in her introduction she affirms: "All the words in this book are his spoken words, recorded mostly on the run during history-making events."
A fine signed copy.