|Charles Evers Biography||
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Charles Evers (b. September 11, 1922) has been an important civil rights figure in the United States. Older brother of the civil rights martyr, Medgar Evers, he introduced Medgar to the US civil rights movement.
Born in Decatur, Mississippi, Evers had a strong, devoutly Christian mother and a fearless father. He learned from his parents that racism was not only wrong but un-Christian, and he always saw the civil rights movement as a Christian movement teaching love, liberation and equality for all.
During World War II, Charles and Medgar Evers both served in the U.S. Army. Charles fell in love with a Filipino woman overseas but could not marry her and take her back with him to Mississippi because of her "white" skin color.
Back in Mississippi, around 1951, Charles and Medgar Evers grew very interested in Jomo Kenyatta and his use of the "mau-mau" movement to free the nation of Kenya from colonial shackles in Africa. Along with his brother, he became active in the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL), a civil rights organization that also promoted self-help and business ownership. He drew inspiration from Dr. T.R.M. Howard, the president of the RCNL, who was one the wealthiest blacks in the state. Evers often spoke at the RCNL's annual conferences in Mound Bayou between 1952 and 1955 on such issues as voting rights.
Around 1956, Evers's entrepreneurial gifts and his civil rights activism landed him in trouble in Philadelphia, Mississippi. He left town and moved to Chicago.
In Chicago, Evers says that he vowed to support the movement back home, and fell into a life of hustling, running numbers for the mob and managing prostitutes. The money he made is said to have been substantial, and much of it was sent back to help the movement.
One evening in 1963 Byron De La Beckwith shot Medgar Evers as Mr. Evers came home from work. As his children begged him to get up, Mr. Evers spiraled toward death. He died in an ambulance.
Charles Evers was shocked and deeply upset by news of his brother's death. He took over Medgar's post as head of the NAACP in Mississippi, over the opposition of more establishment figures in the NAACP, like Roy Wilkins. In 1969 Charles Evers was elected Mayor of Fayette, Mississippi and was the first African American mayor in Mississippi since Reconstruction.
By then, Fayette had a majority of blacks, but African Americans had not enjoyed full voting rights there. Fayette had no industry, which meant it had almost no residents who had grown up outside the area. It was known to be hostile towards black people.
His swearing-in as mayor had enormous symbolic significance statewide and national resonance. The NAACP named Evers their 1969 Man of the Year. John Updike mentioned Evers in his popular novel "Rabbit Redux." Evers popularized the slogan "Hands that picked cotton can now pick the mayor."
Evers served many terms as mayor of Fayette. Admired by some, he alienated others with his inflexible stands on various town issues. Evers did not like to share or delegate power. The political rival who finally defeated Evers in a mayoral election used the slogan: "We've seen what Fayette can do for one man. Now let's see what one man can do for Fayette."
Charles Evers later ran for Governor of Mississippi, losing the race but showing the way for African American candidates of the future.
In 1978 he ran for a seat in the United States Senate in Mississippi as an independent, to succeed the retiring segregationist Democrat James Eastland. He received third place, behind his opponents Democrat Maurice Danton and Republican Thad Cochran but received 24% of the vote, while Cochran won the election. He is said to have a strong physical presence and carries his 250 pounds (113 kg) with grace. He is quoted as saying, "I'll march, I'll picket, but I don't believe in no hunger strikes." He had the endurance, the driving ambition and the gall of the successful politician -- but never the innate caution.
Evers has also attracted controversy for his support of judicial nominee Charles W. Pickering, in contrast to organizations such as the Mississippi NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus. He remains distrusted by some blacks for allegedly cooperating with the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission.
Evers has befriended an astonishing range of people from sharecroppers to presidents. He was an informal advisor to politicians as diverse as Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert Kennedy, George Wallace and Ronald Reagan.
Using humor and a knack for the unexpected to keep his critics and opponents off-balance, Evers has also heaped scorn on black leaders who, he believes, are charlatans or have not "paid the price." Rare for a leader, he is willing to attach names to his criticisms, rather than to let them stand as a general exhortation. Charles Evers has been highly critical of such black community leaders as Roy Wilkins, Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown and Louis Farrakhan.
Many observers likened Medgar Evers to a "saint," in his religious faith, his total devotion to the cause of civil rights and his disregard for his own safety. By contrast, Charles Evers was an unabashed "sinner." Nevertheless, Mr. Evers did important work leading registration and voting drives in Mississippi, often defying death threats in the process.
Evers is a prominent member of the Mississippi Republican Party (United States).
Charles Evers has told his complex life story well in the memoir Have No Fear.
Courtesy of: http://www.wikipedia.org/