Very good news. The widow of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers will deliver the invocation at President Barack Obama's inauguration. Myrlie Evers-Williams will become the first woman and "layperson rather than a clergy member" to deliver the prayer that precedes the presidential oath of office, reports The Washington Post.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the murder of Evers, who was the NAACP’s Mississippi field secretary at the time of his death. Myrlie Evers-Williams spent decades fighting to win a conviction of her late husband’s shooter, and served as chairman of the NAACP in the 1990s.
The inaugural committee [announced] that the benediction will be given by conservative evangelical pastor Louie Giglio, founder of the student-focused Passion Conferences, which draw tens of thousands of people to events around the world. The contrasting choice of speakers are typical of a president who has walked a sometimes complicated path when it comes to religion — working to be inclusive to the point that critics at times have questioned his faith.
In a statement released by the inaugural committee, the president said the careers of Evers-Williams and Giglio "reflect the ideals that the Vice President and I continue to pursue for all Americans - justice, equality and opportunity."
Medgar Evers was murdered by a white supremacist in 1963. Evers was the NAACP's first field secretary in Mississippi and was a key player in the fight to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi, notes the NAACP.
Evers applied to the then-segregated University of Mississippi Law School in February 1954. When his application was rejected, Evers became the focus of an NAACP campaign to desegregate the school. ... [The] case was aided by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education. The University of Mississippi was finally forced to enroll James Meredith in 1962."
Said Evers-Williams in a statement: "I am humbled to have been asked to deliver the invocation for the 57th inauguration of the President of the United States—especially in light of this historical time in America when we will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement."