Civil rights and political leader Charles Evers has passed away today at age 97.
A World War II veteran, Evers succeeded his slain brother, Medgar Evers, as NAACP Field Secretary and head of the organization following his assassination. Charles then went on to a notable political history.
He was elected as the Mayor of Fayette in 1969, becoming the first black mayor of a bi-racial town in Mississippi since Reconstruction. He later went on to run unsuccessfully for Governor in 1971 and then later as an independent candidate for U.S. Senate in 1978.
The family issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
The world lost a fearless Civil Rights leader this morning. The Honorable James Charles Evers, brother of slain civil rights leader Medgar Wiley Evers, passed away peacefully and with family at the home of his daughter, Charlene.
The life mission of Charles Evers was to advance the work of his beloved brother, who was assassinated on June 12, 1963.
After his killing, Charles Evers rushed to Jackson to take his brother’s place as field secretary for the Mississippi NAACP, and in 1969, he became Mississippi’s first black mayor since Reconstruction in a biracial town.
After serving as mayor, he returned to the airwaves with his radio program, “Let’s Talk,” on WMPR in Jackson, Mississippi.
Our family appreciates the outpouring of affection, love and support over the years. Our family is heartbroken and proud of his legacy. His voice will be missed. James Charles Evers was 97 years old.
President Donald Trump expressed his sadness of the loss of Evers, calling him a trailblazer and fearless leader.
I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend Charles Evers. Charles was a trail blazer in politics and a fearless leader, alongside his brother Medgar, for Civil Rights. pic.twitter.com/rL4bLbCY1D
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2020
Evers was a barrier breaker who always featured straight talk and defied the political norms all the way to his death. He was an informal political advisor to LBJ, Reagan, RFK and countless other national leaders. He spoke well of President Obama upon his election, but in later years became more overtly Republican. He was an avid supporter of Donald Trump and went on to endorse him publicly and campaign for him.
Charles, 96, is civil rights icon Medgar Evers' big brother. He's a WWII veteran, 1969 @NAACP Man of the Year & GOP Mayor of Fayette, MS for 16 years, as first black mayor in MS since Reconstruction Era. pic.twitter.com/6KkS9bQYbC
— Oliver McGee PhD MBA (@OliverMcGee) February 4, 2019
Most Jacksonians know Evers as the station manager at WMPR 90.1 FM where he used his pulpit to advocate for change in the black community. He began his career as a disc jockey in 1949 after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II.
Evers has written two autobiographies or memoirs, the first in 1971 entitled Evers and Have No Fear.
— Emily Wagster Pettus (@EWagsterPettus) December 19, 2016
Mississippi leaders issued statements on the passing of Evers, among them Governor Tate Reeves, shown below.
Rest In Peace, Charles Evers. He was a civil rights leader and a true friend to me and so many Mississippians. His memory will always be cherished and honored.
— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) July 22, 2020
Y’all Politics will update this article with more reaction as statements come in.
More reactions to the passing of Charles Evers:
On the campaign trail, I had the honor & privilege to visit with Charles Evers. We know that during his 97 years of life, he was a leader, alongside his brother Medgar, through the civil rights movement & blazed a trail many thought unachievable at the time. pic.twitter.com/wVX9Gi2ppZ
— MSPSCBrentBailey (@MPSCBrentBailey) July 22, 2020
Charles Evers lived without fear. He served his country in World War II and his community as Mayor and a county…
Charles Evers was a Mississippi and Civil Rights icon. His life serves as a reminder to never be afraid of challenging the status quo. He will be missed by many. https://t.co/iHkd7e0S8y
— Cindy Hyde-Smith (@cindyhydesmith) July 22, 2020
U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today released the following statement on the passing of civil rights leader Charles Evers:
“Charles Evers was an absolute classic. His rich and colorful story makes him unique among our state’s historical figures. His career covered the spectrum from his roguish youth to a respected civil rights leader, mayor, businessman, and radio host. Charles Evers was never afraid to challenge the accepted norms or fly in the face of political correctness. As an elected official he navigated the circuitous route from Freedom Democrat to Independent to Republican, even serving as a Trump elector in 2016. He used his powerful personality and platform to change Mississippi for the better. He was one of my favorites, and I doubt we will ever see another like him.”
I extend my sincere condolences and prayers to the family of Charles Evers. I honor Mr. Evers’ memory as a sincere…
I knew Charles Evers for 40 years and considered him a friend. Few people live their lives with the confident ability to express themselves like he did. He will be missed in Mississippi. https://t.co/wcd21FgpKd
— Delbert Hosemann (@DelbertHosemann) July 23, 2020
I send my deep condolences to the Evers family as they grieve the loss of Charles.
Charles introduced his younger brother, Medgar, to the movement in the 1950s, and was the first Black mayor elected in Mississippi after Reconstruction. We will miss him. https://t.co/tjlRT5AJoN
— Mike Espy (@MikeEspyMS) July 23, 2020
I’m saddened to learn that Mr. Charles Evers passed away today. I join our Mississippi family in thankful prayer for his time with us and that he returned to our Heavenly Father having accomplished his goal of creating a better nation for all people.
— Congressman Michael Guest (@RepMichaelGuest) July 22, 2020
I was saddened to learn of the death of Charles Evers. He was a leader in the civil rights movement, a friend to countless leaders of our state and nation and a relentless worker for the conservative cause.
— Lucien Smith (@LucienSmith) July 22, 2020
Charles Evers was an exceptional man, Mississippian, and American – an icon & leader of the civil rights movement who worked tirelessly and sacrificed much to make MS and our nation better. He leaves a rich legacy of courage and distinguished service for generations to come.
— Philip Gunn (@PhilipGunnMS) July 22, 2020