He supported Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. He believes in hard work, even when that included bootlegging, numbers running, and a call girl service. He served in the Pacific in World War II and today is staunchly anti-war. He is a committed bachelor with nine daughters from six mothers and runs a gospel radio station. He lost family to murder, speaks of individual forgiveness and an "eye for an eye" justice.

At the age of 87, Charles Evers - elected Mississippi's first black mayor in 1969 - has a life of contrasts. But he still stands in his brother's shadow.

I sat down to speak with Charles Evers at his WMPR radio office in Jackson last week and asked him whether it bothered him still to still be described as "Charles Evers, brother of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers."

"No, indeed," Evers said. "I am honored. I love that. Because he was the one who gave it all so we could have this kind of life. I want to be known as the brother of Medgar Evers, the follower of Medgar. Because all I did was finance him during all his struggles."

But Charles was in the struggle, too. He urged blacks to pay their poll taxes and vote on the air while working on a white radio station in Neshoba County.

"I loved Philadelphia. They were good to me and my family," Evers said, praising WHOC 1490 radio station founder Howard Cole. "I never forget Howard. He always stood by me."

In Neshoba, Evers ran a funeral home, a café for blacks, a taxi service, and worked at WHOC. "It was such a rare thing for blacks to make money back then," said Evers. When whites threatened Cole, Evers moved to Chicago where he worked with the mafia.

When his brother Medgar was assassinated, Charles turned to political justice. He worked in Mississippi and nationally with the Kennedys - particularly Bobby - to change America.

"Bobby and I lost the same thing. He lost a brother fighting for what's right for all people. I lost a brother." Evers said he would have done anything for the Kennedys. Evers recalled, "The last time I spoke to Teddy he said, 'Charles, I'm just not able to do what we used to do.' I told him none of us are able to do what we used to do, but just keep doing what you're doing. When he endorsed Obama I knew that all of us who supported the Kennedy's would support Obama."

"Obama was the first black I thought could win and the first black that had the knowledge and experience to run the country," explained Evers.

"I would have been less than a man had I not supported him because that is what we fought for all these years, to have black folks equal in whatever this country had to offer. But I'm still a Republican; I'll always be a Republican. I promised Teddy Kennedy I'd never be a Democrat no more because the way they booed him in New York [at the 1976 Democratic Convention]."

Evers said he fell out with George W. Bush over the war. "Now President Obama, my problem with him, he promised he was going to do three things: he was going to end the war first, and he was going close Guantanamo Bay second, and he was going to get national health care for everybody. Now the health care, I always doubted he'd get that. But the war, he could stop the damn war, but he has escalated it. He could close Guantanamo Bay, but now he is wavering on that. I have a problem with him not doing what he said. I still love him and respect him, but being black isn't enough: do what you say."

Evers said Republicans "need inclusion. I was proud of Barbour for appointing a black man to be a judge. They said to me 'but he has appointed 24 whites' - forget that! We keep living in the past. Bush appointed more blacks than any president we've ever had and he was quiet about it. But if Democrats appointed somebody to chase some chickens they'd shout, 'Look, I appointed a black man to chase chickens down the road there.' President Bush said, 'Mayor, we don't do it for politics.' The hell you don't. Let people know you're doing it. Republicans do more for black folks than any Democrats but they won't tell it."

As for his Democratic critics, "I don't pay them any attention. I don't need no damn welfare check. Give me a chance to earn the money. They brag, 'We're going to give you food stamps.' I don't need no damn food stamps. But we Republicans say, 'You're going to earn and be somebody or else you can't be here.' That's what I like about the Republican Party, they say you've gotta earn it. But my thing is, give me a chance to earn it."

Brian Perry is a partner in a public affairs firm. Reach him at reasonablyright@brianperry.ms.