The death of Medgar Evers

On the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 this week, 60 Minutes takes a look back at a 1963 murder of national importance

In the early morning hours of June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers -- a 37-year-old, black civil rights activist -- was shot and killed outside his home in Jackson, Miss., by a white supremacist named Byron De La Beckwith.

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Medgar Evers
AP
In 1970, Harry Reasoner visited Mississippi to find that justice for Evers had not been served and racial tensions continued to run thick. Watch an excerpt of Reasoner's report "Seven Years After Medgar Evers," produced by Andy Rooney, above.

Evers' assassination occurred just hours after President John F. Kennedy delivered a nationally televised speech in which he aggressively urged Congress to enact civil rights legislation. In his address, Kennedy called for the kind of sweeping societal change that Evers was targeted and killed for supporting.

Fifty years ago this week, landmark legislation known as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law. The act outlawed discrimination in public places, protected voter rights and made employment discrimination illegal. Sadly, both Kennedy and Evers did not live to see it pass. The act was signed by Kennedy's successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, on July 2, 1964 -- what would have been Evers' 39th birthday.

Justice for Evers would not come until 31 years after his demise. In February 1994, an unapologetic Beckwith was convicted of murdering the NAACP field secretary. It was the third time Beckwith had been tried for the crime. He received a sentence of life in prison.

In 2001, Beckwith died at the age of 80.

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