2020 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Horhn, Norwood, Jordan, Frazier, Simmons (12th), Blount, Jackson (11th), Butler, Michel, Hopson
A RESOLUTION COMMENDING THE LIFE AND PAYING TRIBUTE TO JAMES CHARLES EVERS, A RESPECTED ENTREPRENEUR, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST AND POLITICIAN AND EXTENDING THE SYMPATHY OF THE SENATE TO HIS BEREAVED FAMILY.
WHEREAS, it is with deep sadness that we note the passing of James Charles Evers, the first Black-elected mayor of a Mississippi city, an entrepreneur, civil rights activist and politician on July 22, 2020, at the age of 97; and
WHEREAS, Charles Evers was born in Decatur, Mississippi, on September 11, 1922, to James and Jessie Wright Evers, three years before his brother, activist Medgar Evers. As a child, he experienced racism and segregation, which later compelled him to challenge the Jim Crow laws that governed the South. Evers served in the United States Army in the Philippines during World War II. Following his military service, he returned to Mississippi. The Evers brothers attended Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (later Alcorn State University), where they became involved in civil rights activities. In 1951, Charles Evers moved to Philadelphia, Mississippi, where he worked at a family-run funeral home and operated a taxi service, a liquor business, and the Evers Hotel and Lounge, which featured blues bands. After the funeral home advertised on WHOC Radio, Station Owner Howard Cole asked Evers to start hosting a show himself. Evers played blues records and also encouraged his African American listeners to register to vote. His brother, Medgar, took a position with The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Jackson and became Mississippi's most prominent civil rights figure. In Philadelphia, segregationist threats to Charles Evers' businesses and family became so severe that he moved his family to Chicago in 1956; and
WHEREAS, in Chicago, Evers was an industrious businessman, as he described in his autobiography, Have No Fear: A Black Man's Fight for Respect in America. His nightclubs, the Club Mississippi, the Subway Lounge in Chicago, and the Palm Gardens in the suburb of Argo, featured Mississippi-born Blues Artists Muddy Waters, Elmore James and B.B. King. After his brother, Medgar Evers, was assassinated in Jackson on June 12, 1963, Charles Evers returned to his home state, where he succeeded his brother as Field Secretary of the NAACP. Evers organized boycotts, protests and registration campaigns throughout Mississippi; and
WHEREAS, in 1969, Evers was named "Man of the Year" by the NAACP. In the same year, he won election as the Mayor of Fayette, Mississippi, the first African American mayor of a racially mixed town in Mississippi in the post-Reconstruction era. Evers was reelected as Mayor of Fayette in 1973 and served as mayor until 1981, and again from 1985 to 1989. Evers also ran for Governor in 1971 and for a United States Senate seat in 1978. Over the years, Evers became an outspoken proponent for the rights of African Americans. He also served as an Informal Advisor to Presidents John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Donald Trump; and
WHEREAS, in 1973, Mayor Charles Evers of Fayette and B.B. King began to cosponsor concerts at the Medgar Evers Homecoming in honor of the slain civil rights activist. Dozens of blues, soul and gospel acts have been performed at the annual festival during subsequent decades. Charles Evers' formal involvement in blues began in 1954, when he became one of the first African American Deejays in Mississippi at WHOC in Philadelphia. In 1987, he began a long tenure as Manager of WMPR 90.1 FM in Jackson, Mississippi. Under Evers' management, the Jackson radio station became a primary outlet for blues in both its musical programming and announcements, while Evers continued to address various issues on his long-running weekly show, "Let's Talk," including race, politics and current events; and
WHEREAS, Evers was known for being outspoken and never shied-away from provocative or controversial conversations. He was a lifelong Democrat until the mid-1970s, when he left the party. He became a Republican in 1989, a controversial decision that added to his complicated legacy; and
WHEREAS, in 2012, Evers was inducted by the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center into its Wall of Honor. This is a great tribute to some heroic men and women, both during and after their military service; and
WHEREAS, Charles Evers leaves to cherish his memory and carry on his legacy 10 children: Patricia Evers Murchison, Carolyn Evers Cockrell (Charles), Velma Charlene Evers Kreel (Nicholas), Rachel Evers Allen (Willie), Sheila Evers Blackmon (Gus), Yvonne Evers, Wanda Evers, Carlos Evers (Carla), Cheryl Brown (Juan) and Tekita Thomas (Will); 24 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren, and a host of nieces and nephews; and
WHEREAS, we pay tribute and cherish fondly the memory of this most dedicated and public-spirited citizen of Mississippi, who will be missed by all who were fortunate to have known him:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, That we do hereby commend the life and pay tribute to the memory of entrepreneur, civil rights activist and politician James Charles Evers and extend the sympathy of the Senate to his bereaved family.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution be presented to the surviving family of James Charles Evers and made available to the Capitol Press Corps.