Beckwith, Byron De La

Medgar Evers was killed on June 12, 1963, and in 1994, some thirty years later, Byron De La Beckwith was convicted of murdering Evers. Although originally from California, Beckwith bought seventy acres of rural property in Carroll County, Mississippi. Beckwith intended that the property be used as a retreat for himself and his friends in the Ku Klux Klan. His plans were to “establish his own racist movement, where he could preach his ideas and theology to those who wanted to listen.”Beckwith envisioned a firearms range, offices, barracks, and gardens that would serve as a retreat. Beckwith married Thelma Lindsay Neff in 1983 and they moved to Signal Mountain in Tennessee.

Beckwith also registered to vote in Carroll County. While he was jailed in Tennessee in 1991, The Clarion Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, ran articles about Beckwith’s eligibility to vote in Carroll County. Apparently, Beckwith contacted several law firms in Tennessee and no one was able to help him. Beckwith then contacted the Circuit Clerk of Carroll County, who was an old friend, and was reassured that he could still vote in Carroll County. In a letter to Beckwith on March 6, 1986, the Circuit Clerk wrote, “As long as I am Circuit Clerk, you can vote at Black Hawk. Of course, if someone contested it we might have to do different.”The Carroll County Election commission voted on August 6, 1991, to allow Beckwith to vote in Mississippi’s gubernatorial race. Commissioner Edward Corder explained that “Beckwith has a ‘lifetime residency’ in Carroll County through a 1984 deed on property Beckwith sold.”

Sources:

REED MASSENGILL, PORTRAIT OF A RACIST: THE MAN WHO KILLED MEDGAR EVERS? 2 (St. Martin’s Press 1994).

Olemiss.edu, Medgar Evers, http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/english/ms-writers/dir/evers_medgar/ (last visited April 15, 2007).

See Jerry Mitchell, Beckwith Eligible To Vote In Carroll County, Circuit Clerk Says, CLARION LEDGER, June 9, 1991, at 1A; Jerry Mitchell, Carroll County Says Beckwith Can Vote From Tenn. Jail, CLARION LEDGER, Sept. 4, 1991, at 1B.