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Roy Wilkins Delivers Eulogy at Medgar Evers’ Funeral

June 15, 1963 - Southern politicians were accused in Jackson, Miss., today of responsibility in the death of Medgar Evers, a Negro integration leader shot in the back outside his home early Wednesday. In a eulogy at Mr. Evers’s funeral, Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the NAACP, declared that the “Southern political system” had put the assassin “behind that rifle.” He listed “lily-white Southern governments, local and state, the Senators, Governors, state legislators, mayors, judges, sheriffs, chiefs of police, commissioners, and so forth.” Mr. Evers, 37, was state field secretary of the NAACP. The services were held in the hot, steamy auditorium of the Masonic Temple in Jackson. Several persons among the 2,800 in the building were led out after having been overcome by the heat. Mrs. Myrlie Evers (pictured comforting her son Darrel), the murder victim’s widow, sat in a front row near the head of the casket, which was draped with an American flag. Mr. Evers was a decorated combat veteran of World War II. NAACP officials released a letter from President Kennedy in which he extended his sympathy and that of Mrs. Kennedy. “Although comforting thoughts are difficult at a time like this,” said the President, “surely there can be some solace in realization of the justice of the cause for which your husband gave his life. Achievement of the goals he did so much to promote will enable his children and the generations to follow to share fully and equally in the benefits and advantages our nation has to offer.”


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