• 48°

Civil rights pioneer Evers-Williams

Sometimes influential women are not standing in the spotlight, but rather next to their famous husbands.

Myrlie Evers-Williams was one of those women.

As the wife of civil-rights activist Medger Evers, Evers-Williams would continue her husband’s efforts towards equality long after his murder in 1963.

When Evers became the field secretary for the NAACP Mississippi office, Evers-Williams became his secretary.

Together they organized voter registration drives and civil rights demonstrations.

After Medger Evers’ death, she and her children moved to California, where she earned a degree in sociology from Pomona College.

In 1975, she became the national director for Atlantic Richfield Company, an oil-company based in Los Angeles. In her position, she was able to oversee funding for community projects, outreach centers and secure money for organizations like the National Woman’s Educational Fund.

In 1976 she married her second husband, Walter Williams, who was also a civil rights activist.

After years of serving as chairwoman of the NACCP, Evers-Williams stepped down and began the Medger Evers Institute, an organization that preserves her first husband’s legacy and the history of the civil rights movement.

She wrote two books and in 2009 received the National Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum.

Evers-Williams was also chosen to deliver the invocation at President Barack Obama’s second presidential inauguration, the first woman and layperson to do so.

She went from working alongside her husband, to becoming the head of organizations and businesses and is truly a woman to look up to.

Myrlie Evers-Williams is truly a woman to look up to.