Interview with Myrlie Evers


Myrlie Evers:

1953/1954 was really the beginning of a real presence of the NAACP in the state of Mississippi. That was mainly due to the fact that the NAACP had its first field secretary who was Medgar, to try to bring together those people who had memberships and who really wanted to be organized in some way. Of course, the organization of the first field secretary and state office was met with different reactions from both blacks and whites in the state. With the whites through telephone calls and threats as well as editorials in the newspapers. They were saying that this was simply not a time for this kind of organization, that it was going to do more harm to blacks than good. Blacks on the other hand, were afraid for the most part, afraid of losing jobs, afraid of being hurt, afraid of being killed. So for anyone, one person or more, who were trying to organize, it was a very difficult task because you were dealing with almost insurmountable odds there, of eliminating the fear from black peoples' hearts and getting them to become actively involved. I think of how some of even our classmates, college classmates, would see Medgar coming, and cross the street, and not want to talk to him, not want to be seen with him, out of fear. I can recall how we would go door to door to some of the teachers' homes and talk to them about joining the NAACP and they said, "No way, I'll lose my job." The newspapers, including the only black newspaper there, was very, very negative about Medgar. He was called, a young upstart, wet behind the ears, someone who would never be able to pull together black people because they had better sense than being involved with an organization like the NAACP.