Left to raise three small children after the murder of her husband, civil rights leader Medgar Evers, Myrlie Evers-Williams went on to become Chairman of the National Board of Directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, becoming the first woman to lead the nation’s oldest civil rights organization. Evers is given credit for restoring the Association to its original status as the premier civil rights organization of the United States.
Born Myrlie Beasley in Vicksburg, Mississippi, on March 7, 1933 to a 16-year-old mother and a 28-year old father, she was raised by her paternal grandmother. Myrlie attended Alcorn A&M College in Lorman, Mississippi, where she met and married Medgar Evers.
The two moved to Mound Bayou, Mississippi, and began their life working for Magnolia Mutual Life Insurance Company. While traveling throughout the state, they both witnessed the poverty and injustices of the African-American people. Together, they decided to open the first NAACP Mississippi State Office. Their lives were forever changed by this journey. They were under constant threats as they worked for voting rights, fair housing, and justice for all.
After the assassination of her husband in 1963, she was left to raise their three small children. Justice did not prevail in the trial of Medgar Evers until 31 years later; Myrlie Evers-Williams was present in 1994 when Byron De La Beckwith was given life in prison for the murder of her late husband.
She continued her education earning a Bachelor’s in Sociology in 1968 and a Certificate from Simmons College, School of Management. In addition, she has received honorary doctorates from Pomona College, Medgar Evers College, Spelman College, Columbia College, Bennett College, Tougaloo College, Willamette University, Howard University and others.
To honor her late husband and the civil rights struggle in Mississippi, she authored a book entitled, “For Us, the Living.” Evers also appeared on a special HBO production, “Southern Justice, the Murder of Medgar Evers.” She later remarried Walter Edward Williams, who also was a civil rights activist, and two were married for 18 years until his death. Evers-Williams ended her career as Chairman of the NAACP in 1998.
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