Evers was a native of Decatur, Mississippi, and a graduate of Alcorn State University, located in Lorman, Mississippi. Upon completing his degree, he applied to the then-segregated University of Mississippi Law School, basing his attempt on the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education 347 US 483 that segregation was unconstitutional. When his application was rejected on grounds of race, Evers became the focus of an NAACP campaign to desegregate the school.
Evers himself became the NAACP's first field officer in Mississippi. He was involved in a boycott campaign against white merchants in Jackson and instrumental in eventually desegregating the University of Mississippi when it was finally forced to enroll James Meredith in 1962.
Just after midnight on 12 June 1963, Medgar Evers was assassinated by a white racist Byron De La Beckwith just after pulling into his driveway. His death was mourned nationally, and he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Bob Dylan wrote the song "Only a Pawn in their Game" about Evers and his assassin. Nevertheless, the assassin was twice acquitted, when the all-white jury could not reach agreement. Byron De La Beckwith was finally convicted on February 5, 1994, more than three decades after the murder.
The 1996 film Ghosts of Mississippi tells the story of the 1994 trial. The Bob Dylan song, Only a Pawn in Their Game focused on Evers' killing as an example of lowly operatives, doing the dirty work for their evil masters: "Two eyes took the aim/Behind a man's brain/But he can't be blamed/He's only a pawn in their game."