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Widow of Slain Civil Rights Leader Delivers Inaugural Invocation

Widow of Slain Civil Rights Leader Delivers Inaugural Invocationi
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January 22, 2013
Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain African-American civil rights leader Medgar Evers, delivered the invocation at President Obama’s second Inauguration. Her spotlight at the historic event came as the nation honored the late Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, America's most famous and influential civil rights leader. VOA’s Chris Simkins reports on Evers-Williams' reflections during the presidential inauguration and how she continues her husband’s legacy of civil rights activism.

Widow of Slain Civil Rights Leader Delivers Inaugural Invocation

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Chris Simkins
— Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain African-American civil rights leader Medgar Evers, delivered the invocation at President Obama’s second Inauguration. Her spotlight at the historic event came as the nation honored the late Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, America's most famous and influential civil rights leader.  VOA’s Chris Simkins reports on Evers-Williams' reflections during the presidential inauguration and how she continues her husband’s legacy of civil rights activism.

It was a shining moment for Evers-Williams, as she delivered the invocation at Barack Obama’s second Inauguration.

Fifty years ago, Evers-Williams' husband, Medgar Evers, was shot and killed by a white supremacist while fighting for equal rights for blacks in Mississippi. Now, decades later, she evoked the spirit of her husband and other civil rights leaders during the second inauguration of the nation's first African-American president.

"The vision of those who came before us and dreamed of this day. They are a great cloud of witnesses unseen by the naked eye but all around us, thankful that their living was not in vain,"  she said.

For years Evers-Williams has carried on the causes her husband fought and died for.  While she remains conscious of the past she also holds great hope for the future.

"I think we have the challenge today of using all of the strengths that we have. It is about humanity its about giving, its about helping each other those were the things civil rights leaders fought for," Evers-Williams said.

Views of inauguration around US Capitol Building

  • A view of the Washington Monument and the crowd on Inauguration Day, January 21, 2013. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • Bill and Hillary Clinton at the U.S. Capitol on Inauguration Day, January 21, 2013. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • A view of the staging area, musicians, and media at the U.S. Capitol on Inauguration Day, January 21, 2013. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • Allison Williams, daughter of Brian Williams and a cast member on the TV show "Girls" on Inauguration Day, January 21, 2013. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • Security at the top of the U.S. Capitol, January 21, 2013. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • President Barack Obama waves to the crowd before his Inauguration Day speech, January 21, 2013. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • Senator John McCain at U.S. Capitol, January 21, 2013. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • Former president Jimmy Carter and several members of congress walk on to the staging area at the U.S. Capitol, January 21, 2013. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • Vice President Joe Biden gets sworn in on Inauguration Day, January 21, 2013. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • Members of the crowd watch President Barack Obama's Inauguration Day speech in Washington, D.C., January 21, 2013. (Alison Klein/VOA)
Evers-Williams says she takes away from the inauguration a sense of pride, justice and hope for a nation that's inclusive to all people.

"There is so much we can do in reaching out to other people of getting issues on the table, and that is where my interest and that's where my desire is, at this point, to make a better world [and] to make a better America," Evers-Williams said.

After her moment in the spotlight, Evers-Williams says she wants young people to learn about the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s and continue the struggle for equal rights.

"It is time to utilize the brain power of our youth in a positive way, of going back into the community in working to change things. You don't have to be an old civil rights leader. You can be a new improved leader in your community," Evers-Willaisms said.

Evers-Williams says she will continue to champion the cause of civil rights and do whatever she can to help America become an even stronger country.

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