Homage to Medgar Evers
Medgar Evers, state secretary for the NAACP, Aug. 9, 1955 in Jackson, Miss. | AP

Medgar Wiley Evers was an American civil rights activist in Mississippi, the state’s field secretary for the NAACP, and a World War II veteran who had served in the United States Army. He was born July 2, 1925, and was assassinated on June 12, 1963. Tim Wheeler wrote this poem in 1994.

Behold the Mississippi flowing
with the waters of a continent
and still stained
with the blood of Medgar Evers.

Deep flows the river
with the evil of stolen lives,
the floodcrest of trouble in the land.
Jackals slinked
around his home in 1963.

Surely there came a cry
from his heart, “run, run”
when the telephone rang
and death was on the line.

North through Tupelo
was the path of escape to Detroit,
the option of life.

Photograph of NAACP leaders Roy Wilkins and Medgar Evers being arrested for attempting to picket outside the Woolworth’s store in Jackson, Miss., 1963. 

What necessity, strong as the river,
made him stay?
Did he love his people more
than life itself?

“Jim Crow has got to go.”
The words burned in his brain
the night the shot rang out.

Myrlie cradles him.
The children cry in the dark,
“Daddy, get up!”

Thirty-one years
for the wheel of justice to grind.
The widow takes her lonely stand.

We are not deceived.
De la Beckwith did not
fire the fatal shot alone.
Still hidden
under the coward’s hood
of absentee ownership
are those who gave the order.

They lynch Black men
in Mississippi jail cells.
They drive Black women
with high-tech whips
in delta catfish plants.

You stood rooted like a tree
in the delta earth,
Medgar Evers.
You would not run.

You did not speak flattering lies
about the America that is
knowing what America can be.

Patriot in the land of cotton,
our burning cause is the
Mississippi you died for.


CONTRIBUTOR

Tim Wheeler
Tim Wheeler

Tim Wheeler estimates he has written 10,000 news reports, exposés, op-eds, and commentaries in his half-century as a journalist for the Worker, Daily World and People’s World. Tim also served as editor of the People’s Weekly World newspaper. He lives in Sequim, Wash., in the home he shared with his beloved late wife Joyce Wheeler. His book News for the 99% is a selection of his writings over the last 50 years representing a kind of history of the nation and the world from a working-class point of view.

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