MARCH 17, 1933
Today is the 90th birthday of Myrlie Beasley Evers.
Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, she had visions of being a concert pianist, but Jim Crow conspired against her and she wound up attending what is now Alcorn State University, which offered a minor in music.
On her first day on campus, she met Medgar Evers. The two married. He became the Mississippi NAACP’s first field secretary, and she became his secretary. After he was assassinated, her husband’s killer, Byron De La Beckwith, was tried twice, but walked free. She pushed for his reprosecution, which finally took place in 1994 when he was convicted of murder and received a life sentence. A year later, she was elected chair of the national NAACP, helping rescue the civil rights organization from the brink of bankruptcy.
A dynamic speaker, she became the first woman and first layperson to deliver the prayer at the presidential inauguration in 2013. “When you hate,” she said, “the only person who suffers is you because most of the people you hate don’t know it and the rest don’t care.”