Reviews for Medgar & Myrlie

by Joy-Ann Reid

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A biography of Medgar Evers and his wife, Myrlie, who made a lasting partnership during the early Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi before his murder in 1963. MSNBC host Reid, author of The Man Who Sold America, weaves in details of the larger civil rights struggle through the intimate story of Evers and his not-always-smooth family life. Evers hailed from Black sharecroppers in Decatur, Mississippi, and he gained new insight into American segregation while serving in England, Belgium, and France during World War II. When he returned to the U.S. in 1946, he was determined to challenge systemic racism, starting with registering to vote in his county. While a student at Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in Lorman, Mississippi, Evers met Myrlie Louise Beasley, a 17-year-old musician from Vicksburg; they were married within a year, cutting short her singing dreams. Reid emphasizes both Evers’ devotion to his growing family, first while living in Mound Bayou and working for Magnolia Mutual Life Insurance, and his absolute commitment to the civil rights struggle, serving in the Jackson office of the NAACP. His relentless traveling around the state and frequent absences, along with visitors constantly at their home, caused friction in the couple’s marriage. Moreover, Myrlie, whom the author interviewed extensively for the book, was constantly fearful for her husband’s safety. The lynching of Emmett Till in 1955, the bus boycott movement in Montgomery, Alabama, organized by Martin Luther King Jr., and James Meredith’s determination to crack segregation at the University of Mississippi in 1961 all helped galvanize Evers to action, increasing his profile as well as the danger to his life. His shooting was the first in a string of horrific assassinations in the South. Reid follows the three trials of the killer to his ultimate conviction in 1994. A poignant tale reminds readers of Evers’ continuing significance. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.