University of Alabama and Medgar Evers

University of Alabama and Medgar Evers

Gov. George Wallace stands in the doorway of the University of Alabama to physically and symbolically block two black students from enrolling. President John F. Kennedy federalizes the National Guard and forces Wallace to yield.8

Shortly after 8 p.m., the president announces on national television that he will be sending comprehensive civil rights legislation to Congress: “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.”

Hours later, civil rights leader Medgar Evers is assassinated just outside his Jackson, Mississippi, home. A prime suspect, Ku Klux Klansman Byron de la Beckwith, is set free after two mistrials when all-white juries deadlock. Reporting by Jerry Mitchell of The (Jackson) Clarion Ledger 25 years later prompts authorities to reopen the case, and in 1994, Beckwith is convicted and sentenced to life in prison. 9

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