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General : This Day in History - Feb 5, 1994: Beckwith Convicted of Killing Medgar Evers
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From: MSN NicknamePaleshyone  (Original Message)Sent: 2/5/2009 2:31 PM

February 5: General Interest
1994 : Beckwith convicted of killing Medgar Evers

On this day in 1994, white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith is convicted in the murder of African-American civil rights leader Medgar Evers, over 30 years after the crime occurred. Evers was gunned down in the driveway of his Jackson, Mississippi, home on June 12, 1963, while his wife, Myrlie, and the couple's three small children were inside.

Medgar Wiley Evers was born July 2, 1925, near Decatur, Mississippi, and served in the U.S. Army during World War II. After fighting for his country, he returned home to experience discrimination in the racially divided South, with its separate public facilities and services for blacks and whites. Evers graduated from Alcorn College in 1952 and began organizing local chapters of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). In 1954, after being rejected for admission to then-segregated University of Mississippi Law School, he became part of an NAACP campaign to desegregate the school. Later that year, Evers was named the NAACP's first field secretary in Mississippi. He moved with his family to Jackson and worked to dismantle segregation, leading peaceful rallies, economic boycotts and voter registration drives around the state. In 1962, he helped James Meredith become the first African American to attend the University of Mississippi, a watershed event in the civil rights movement. As a result of his work, Evers received numerous threats and several attempts were made on his life before he was murdered in 1963 at the age of 37.

Beckwith, a fertilizer salesman and Ku Klux Klan member widely believed to be the killer, was prosecuted for murder in 1964. However, two all-white (and all-male) juries deadlocked and refused to convict him. A second trial held in the same year resulted in a hung jury. The matter was dropped when it appeared that a conviction would be impossible. Myrlie Evers, who later became the first woman to chair the NAACP, refused to give up, pressing authorities to re-open the case. In 1989, documents came to light showing that jurors in the case were illegally screened.

Prosecutor Bobby DeLaughter worked with Myrlie Evers to force another prosecution of Beckwith. After four years of legal maneuvering, they were finally successful. At the third trial they produced a riflescope from the murder weapon with Beckwith's fingerprints, as well as new witnesses who testified that Beckwith had bragged about committing the crime. Justice was finally achieved when Beckwith was convicted and given a life sentence by a racially diverse jury in 1994. He died in prison in 2001 at the age of 80.


General Interest
1994 : Beckwith convicted of killing Medgar Evers
1631 : Roger Williams arrives in America
1917 : Immigration act passed over Wilson's veto
1917 : Mexican constitution proclaimed
1937 : Roosevelt announces "court-packing" plan
1974 : Patty Hearst kidnapped
1988 : Noriega indicted on U.S. drug charges

American Revolution
1777 : Georgia constitution abolishes primogeniture and entail

1878 : Citroen is born
1947 : Waltrip is born
1952 : First "Don't Walk" sign installed

Civil War
1865 : Battle of Dabney's Mill (Hatcher's Run)

Cold War
1989 : The last Soviet troops leave Kabul

1994 : Medger Evers' killer is convicted

1783 : Earthquake devastates southern Italy

1918 : Secret wife sues silent-film star
1919 : Chaplin, Pickford, Fairbanks and Griffith launch United Artists
1921 : State Theater opens
1936 : Modern Times with Charlie Chaplin debuts

1928 : Andrew Greeley is born

Old West
1883 : Southern Pacific Railroad completes "Sunset Route"

1826 : Millard Fillmore marries Abigail Powers

1934 : Hank Aaron is born

Vietnam War
1960 : South Vietnam requests more support
1975 : North Vietnamese begin preparations for offensive

World War I
1918 : U.S. steamship Tuscania is torpedoed and sinks

World War II
1941 : Hitler to Mussolini: Fight harder!