MARCH 17, 1933

Myrlie Evers-Williams

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.”

More on this day


Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Take our 2023 reader survey

The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.