09 June 2013


The other day I tuned in to 'The View' and Myrlie Evers-Williams was a guest and Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters were interviewing her. The anniversary of Medgar Evers assassination is officially Wednesday, June 12th.  What got my attention and admiration was her honesty about her feelings regarding his assassination and where the country stands 50 years later.  She has stated in several interviews that she was not only angry about the circumstances that led to his death but what we are seeing now with voter suppression issues and emergence of overt racial hostilities towards not only African-Americans but other minorities in this country. She's made peace regarding the man who shot her husband after her 30 year crusade to bring him to justice which she did in a determined and justifiable manner.  The anger lingers as she so emphatically stated because of "those things within the system, not that it embraces, but that it allows prejudice and racism to persist."

I searched again for her autobiography published in 1999; Watch Me Fly to refresh my memory regarding the trials, tribulations and triumphs of this graceful woman.  There were articles and interviews during that time when she was on speaking tours and continuing to live a full life which entailed college, parenting, remarriage, solidifying a declining NAACP, endeavors that led to Byron De La Beckwith's conviction in 1994 and again enduring widowhood in 1995.  

Medgar Evers: July 2, 1925 ~ June 12, 1963
There are times when I wonder if Mr. Evers was an unsung hero of the civil rights movement. You just don't hear that much about him like some of the leaders who followed in his footsteps.  He took on the incredibly dangerous task of field co-ordinator of the NAACP, engaged in many activities to fight discrimination and the violence suffered by blacks in Mississippi and the south.  He fought for a re-investigation into the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955.  He organized demonstrations for equal employment and voter registration drives.  He recognized that his life was in danger but his tremendous courage kept him moving onward until his assassination in 1963.  There is a quote by him that embodies all that he withstood in order to further the cause of human rights for all; ""You can kill a man, but you can't kill an idea."  His wife, Myrlie Evers wrote a book about her husband and what he stood for; titled ' For Us, The Living'. 

It's important that we continue to encourage our young folks to read about Medgar Evers for the very inequities that he fought against are emerging with the suppression of voter rights and other progressive advances possibly by the Supreme Court and enacted by the republicans in state legislatures with Raleigh, N.C. leading the pack.  The multi-racial group in Raleigh who were peacefully protesting those retrogressive changes were also moved by the earlier warriors to ensure the rights and privileges of first class citizenship for all.  They sung "I shall not be moved" and “This Little Light of Mine” as they were arrested on May 5, 2013.

Medgar and Myrlie Evers during happier times and as they embarked on their  journey and struggle for human rights.  I must surmise that they really had no idea of what they were in for as they particpated in one of the rituals of "becoming as one". We need images of the beauty of their relationship to mollify the tragic demise of his life and their family as they knew it.

Betty Shabazz, Coretta Scott King & Myrlie Evers
There was one other statement by Myrlie Evers-Williams that put me in a pensive mood and that I'd like to address before closing.  What readily comes to mind were the challenges the sisters endured during and after the early movement days. They work diligently and strategically in all aspects of the freedom movement but were overlooked or marginalized.  The fragile egos and bravado of the male leadership contributed to the latter.  Ms. Evers-Williams spoke of her challenges as "Chairman" of the NAACP board and the minimization  of her leadership abilities for she was 'just the widow of Medgar Evers'.  She resigned after she made the organization solvent again despite some of their efforts to sabotage her goal of moving them towards the 21st century.  I, then, thought of  two other wives of two of our most prominent male 20th century African-American leaders, Betty Shabazz and Coretta Scott King.  After the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, these women lived in the shadows of their husbands' legacies although they were activists and educators who not only maintained the struggle for equal rights but were trailblazers in their areas of expertise.  I simply adore this portrait of these women whom may have had different viewpoints on the struggle, however, were in agreement on freedom and equal rights for all and understood their mutual challenges given the roles their husbands took on in guaranteeing those rights.


Anonymous said...

What a stunningly beautiful couple they made! And what a great picture of the three women!!!

As the song says " nobody knows the trouble I've seen".and nobody feels the pain of inequality unless one lives it.

This post just brings tears to my eyes.

"Mans inhumanity to man" nobody knows .....

Carolyn said...

@Desertflower..."As the song says " nobody knows the trouble I've seen".and nobody feels the pain of inequality unless one lives it".

No truer words spoken. I remember one of her statements was that there are a lot of women who've gone through similar losses and continue on. Men are killed with families everyday somewhere in the world and it's the wife or grandmother who usually steps up and rears the children.

Take care and bountiful blessings.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...