Charles Evers (right), then the Mississippi NAACP field director, chats with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Ted Kennedy in Jackson, Miss. 

Charles Evers, the older brother of slain civil rights icon Medgar Evers, died in Mississippi Wednesday of natural causes. He was 97.

Charles and Medgar Evers both served in the U.S. military during World War II. They became active in the NAACP upon returning home to Mississippi after the war and continuing to face racial discrimination.

Medgar Evers had been Mississippi’s field secretary for the NAACP for more than eight years when he was assassinated by a sniper outside his Jackson home in June 1963.

Charles Evers, considered one of the pioneers of the civil rights movement, became the NAACP’s state voter registration chairman in 1954, and after his brother’s death, he took over his leadership roles and began drives to register Black voters. Charles Evers made history in 1969 when he was elected mayor of Fayette, becoming the first African-American mayor in Mississippi.