NPR recently reported that Myrlie Evers-Williams fulfilled a lifelong dream of performing at Carnegie Hall. Evers-Williams had studied classical music as a young girl but was denied an out-of-state scholarship to be a music major at Fisk University. She minored in music at Alcorn A&M College where she met her future husband, Medgar Evers. Although her life’s work was based around civil rights and her family, she continued to play music and has now reached a goal set by her grandmother who first encouraged her. Evers-Williams is a multi-talented woman who continues to inspire with her life and work.
Evers-Williams was interviewed for Eyes on the Prize and the whole interview can be read online as part of the Eyes on the Prize: The Complete Series transcript project. In the interview she talks about her upbringing in segregated Vicksburg, Mississippi, how she met her first husband, civil rights activist, Medgar Evers, and their life and work together. Medgar Evers was the first NAACP field secretary in Mississippi. He was involved in the Emmett Till case and helped witnesses in that trial leave the state of Mississippi after testifying. Evers was also involved in the James Meredith case and many other campaigns in Mississippi. Tragically Evers was assassinated on June 12, 1963 because of his position and work in the civil rights movement.
Myrlie Evers-Williams talked about their lives and the risks they knew they faced in her interview,
To be born black and to live in Mississippi was to say that your life wasn’t worth much, in that particular point in time. Medgar knew full well when he assumed the position of field director for the NAACP that there were going to be threats and that his life would possibly be taken from him. But certainly during the point of time when the economic boycotts were so successful, and we were having rallies every day and every night, it became very evident that Medgar was a target because he was the leader. The whole mood there of white Mississippians was to eliminate Medgar Evers and the problem would have been solved. There would be no more uprisings…from the blacks in that community-how wrong they were. But of course, it effected Medgar’s and my life, and our children’s lives, profoundly. I must say that as any couple would argue, we had our arguments, but we also knew that whenever he left that house that we may never see each other again. That it was necessary for us to touch base any number of times by phone with each other, if no more than to reassure each other that the other was all right. We made a pact. Medgar and I said we would never part angry, and as a result of that we decided that regardless of how angry we were, we would always kiss each other before parting. And we did that, even at times when I think we perhaps would like to have walked away from each other in anger.
Darrell Evers, Myrlie and Medgar’s son was also interviewed for Eyes on the Prize and his transcript is available online as well.
Myrlie Evers-Williams was interviewed for the National Visionary Leadership Project. An excerpt from her interview where she talks about her later work as Chairman of the NAACP is available online.