Charles Evers to be remembered during memorial service

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Saturday memorial service for civil rights leader Charles Evers is expected to draw hundreds in Mississippi.

Evers, the older brother of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers, died of natural causes in July, Rankin County Coroner David Ruth told The Associated Press. He was 97.

Saturday's service at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson is set to begin at 11 a.m. Seating is limited, but the service will be broadcast live on the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute Facebook page, WAPT-TV reported.

Charles and Medgar Evers both served in the military during World War II, and they became active in the NAACP when they returned to their home state of Mississippi and continued to face discrimination. Charles Evers was appointed to lead the Mississippi NAACP after his brother was killed in 1963.

In 1969, Charles Evers was elected mayor of the southwestern Mississippi town of Fayette, becoming the first Black mayor of a multiracial town in the state since Reconstruction. During his long career, he ran several businesses in Chicago and Mississippi. A Mississippi Blues Trail marker commemorates his career as a concert promoter with blues legend B.B. King and notes that Evers was once in the bootleg liquor business.

He worked on Democrat Robert Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign and was with him the day Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles. He ran unsuccessfully for an open U.S. House seat as a Democrat in 1968 and ran as an independent for Mississippi governor in 1971 and for a U.S. Senate seat in 1978.

In 1980, Evers endorsed Ronald Reagan for president and served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1996 and 2000. He publicly supported Democrat Barack Obama for president in 2008 and 2012 but cast one of Mississippi's six electoral votes for Republican Donald Trump in 2016.