Myrlie Evers-Williams, an author and activist who presided over the NAACP from 1995 to 1998, was the wife of the assassinated civil rights activist Medgar Evers.
Who Is Myrlie Evers-Williams?
Myrlie Evers-Williams, who was born in 1933 ( age 90 years old as of 2023), was the spouse of the assassinated civil rights fighter Medgar Evers. Evers-Williams continued her husband’s work with her book, For Us, The Living while battling for justice for his killer. Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Path to Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be is another book that she wrote. From 1995 until 1998, Evers-Williams presided over the NAACP as its chair.
Myrlie Evers-Williams Acknowledgements / Honors
- Evers-Williams was the first woman and layperson to do so in 2013, delivering the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration.
- The former Evers-Williams and Medgar Evers residence in Mississippi was designated a national historic monument in 2020.
Myrlie Evers-Williams Wife Medgar Evers
On March 17, 1933, Myrlie Louise Beasley was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Evers-Williams was raised by her grandmother, a teacher, and she enjoyed both music and education. She attended Alcorn A&M College, one of the few institutions in the state that accepted African American students, while growing up in the segregated South. She met Medgar Evers, a World War II soldier many years her senior, while she was a student at Alcorn. In December 1951, the pair were married after falling in love.
Evers-Williams collaborated with her husband when he was appointed the NAACP’s Mississippi field secretary. She supported him as he worked to remove the unfair practice of racial segregation in public places like schools and workplaces and advocated for voting rights because many African Americans in the South were denied this privilege. Those who opposed changing racial relations in the South were demonized by Medgar. White supremacist Byron De La Beckwith shot Medgar Evers dead in front of his house on June 12, 1963.
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Myrlie Evers-Williams Attempt at Justice / Legal Affairs
Evers-Williams worked arduously to get her husband’s killer brought to justice after his murder. Despite being detained and facing murder accusations, Beckwith’s case was deadlocked by two all-white jurors. It would take about 30 years for justice to be achieved, with Williams-Evers pursuing Beckwith’s restitution for his crimes and pursuing the matter. Her efforts were successful. Early in the 1990s, Beckwith was detained once more and later found guilty by a jury made up of people of many races.
In addition to seeking justice, Evers-Williams rebuilt her life after the passing of her husband. She relocated to California with her kids and later became an independent civil rights advocate. In 1967, Evers-Williams represented the NAACP and wrote For Us, the Living, a biography of her late husband’s life and career. In 1970, she also launched an unsuccessful campaign for the US Congress.
Myrlie Evers-Williams NAACP Chairperson
Evers-Williams wed labor and civil rights activist Walter Williams in 1976. She kept looking into methods to help her neighborhood and the NAACP. In 1987, Tom Bradley, the mayor of Los Angeles, named her as a commissioner on the Board of Public Works. Additionally, Evers-Williams joined the NAACP board. The prominent organization was going through a challenging time highlighted by scandal and financial issues by the middle of the 1990s. Evers-Williams thought that running for the board of directors chair would be the greatest approach to assist the organization. In 1995, she was chosen for the job.
Evers-Williams sought to repair the NAACP’s damaged reputation while serving as its chair. She raised the money necessary to pay off its debt, which helped to improve its financial situation as well. Evers-Williams won numerous awards for her contributions, including Ms. Magazine’s Woman of the Year title. She made the decision not to run for reelection as chairman in 1998 because the organization was now financially secure.
Evers-Williams founded the Medgar Evers Institute in Jackson, Mississippi after resigning from her position. Many readers were moved by her compelling experience in her autobiography, Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be (1999), which she also penned.
With one of her most recent works, Evers-Williams has continued to honor the memory of her first husband. The Autobiography of Medgar Evers: A Hero’s Life and Legacy Revealed Through His Writings, Letters, and Speeches was edited by her (2005).
Myrlie Evers-Williams Walter Williams
Walter Williams, a stevedore, and labor and civil rights activist who had researched Evers and her work, and Evers were married in 1976. In 1989, they relocated to Bend, Oregon. Cancer claimed Walter Williams’ life in 1995.