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Legacy of Medgar Evers keeps on giving

When an assassin's bullet hit Medgar Evers in the back, a charismatic leader of the civil rights movement died, but his legacy survives 30 years after the murder.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy recalls the fear he felt when Evers was killed.

As a 9-year-old living in Yazoo City, "I was scared, and I knew how important Medgar's work had been to our state," Espy said.

Espy, who went on to become the state's first black congressman since Reconstruction, credited Evers for his success.

"I know that Medgar's passion for justice helped make changes in our state that led to my election to Congress in 1986," Espy said.

Evers, 37, field secretary for the Mississippi NAACP, was shot in the back outside his Jackson home as he arrived on June 12, 1963. No date is set for the third murder trial of his accused assassin, Byron De La Beckwith.

Constance Slaughter-Harvey, a Mississippi assistant secretary of state, was a 16-year-old college student when she met Evers six days before he died.

Although the Rev. Martin Luther King was "more eloquent, Medgar spoke from his heart," she said. "You could tell he meant everything he said. You were willing to follow him."

Slaughter-Harvey went on to become the first black woman to graduate from the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Myrlie Evers compares her slain husband to a modern-day Moses.

"Medgar was in the process of catching a glimpse of what the future was going to be," she said. "But he never got a chance to get there."

Charles Evers believes his brother's slaying sounded an alarm for civil rights activists.

"I think his death awakened more people in what he was trying to do," said Evers, who served as NAACP field secretary after the assassination. "He did more in death than in life. It's a terrible thing to say."

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