Civil rights activist and scholar Myrlie Evers-Williams '68 has been tapped to deliver the invocation at President Barack Obama's second inauguration on January 21. She will be the first woman and non-clergy member to say the prayer that precedes the ceremonial oath, according to the Washington Post. Rev. Louie Giglio of the Passion City Church in Atlanta will deliver the benediction. The ceremony will occur on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one day after Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are officially sworn in, which is on a Sunday.
In a statement released by the inaugural committee, Obama says Evers-Williams and Giglio represent ideals of justice, equality and opportunity that he pursues.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the death of Medger Evers, Evers-Williams' husband who was a civil rights leader assassinated in front of their Mississippi home in 1963. The couple had worked together throughout the 1950s and early 1960s organizing voter registration drives and civil rights demonstrations. After her husband's death, Evers-Williams moved to Claremont with her three children.
While still a student studying sociology at Pomona College, Evers-Williams wrote For Us, the Living, which chronicled her late husband's life and work. She was the first black woman to serve as head of the Board of Public Works of Los Angeles and, in 1995, became the first woman to head the NAACP. Her autobiography, Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be, was published in 1999. She is a distinguished scholar at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Miss. Her work and persistence kept her late husband's murder case open for 30 years; his murderer was convicted in 1994.