Killers Real and Imagined

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Killers Real and Imagined

by Doris Betts
Southern Cultures, Vol. 5, No. 4: Winter 1999

"Real-life tragedy is the genesis for lasting art when the murder of Medgar Evers sparks the muse of Eudora Welty."

A real eventthe murder of civil-rights activist Medgar Evers on 12 June 1963 in his own drivewaysparked Eudora Welty’s monologue story “Where is the Voice Coming From?” She wrote the story at white heat at one sitting the night Evers was shot down in Jackson, Mississippi, where they both lived. By 1999 other real events were bringing a new generation of readers to the story. The victim’s surviving brother, Myrlie Evers-Williams, had become chairman of the NAACP board of directors and written her memoir; and the Hollywood had issued a film, Ghosts of Mississippi, about why it took thirty years and three juries to convict the white murderer Welty had imagined on paper.