February 21: Myrlie Evers-Williams
Myrlie Evers-Williams, like many of the other women of the Civil Rights era, has a legacy in the movement that extends past the death of her husband, Medgar (who served as Mississippi's first NAACP field secretary). She met her husband at Alcorn A&M College (now Alcorn State University), and returned years later as a a distinguished scholar-in-residence at the university. She is a woman of Delta Sigma Theta, and a lifelong champion for civil rights.
First Black female commissioner on the Los Angeles Board of Public Works, served as chair of the board of the NAACP and was responsible for helping to revive the finances and reputation of the imperiled organization. Like others of her time, she was told she couldn't be head of the NAACP, a position she assumed in 1995, because she was a woman. Though the years had passed, times hadn't much changed from when women in different periods of the fight for equality were still facing dual challenges of being Black and woman.
In 2013, she became the first woman and the first non-clergy member in history to deliver the invocation at a U.S. Presidential inauguration, when she prayed at the second inauguration of former President Barack Obama.
Though retired from public life, Mrs. Ever-Williams remains committed to the cause of advancing Civil Rights. After George Floyd was killed in 2020, she said she was disheartened to see that "Even though thousands of us have worked for many years to see positive change in America, it seems that we may be in a backward trend."
Young Students (K3-2nd Grade)
Myrlie Evers-Williams says that even though things can be scary, you have to keep going and meet fear head-on. What is one thing you're afraid of? What is one way you can be brave and tackle the fear head-on this week?
Middle Students (Grades 3-8)
Like many others, Mrs. Evers-Williams faced dual challenges of being Black and a woman, and was told by some in the movement that she couldn't hold certain positions because she wasn't a man. Her response? "Watch me." What is something someone -- or you -- said you couldn't do that you knew you could? How can you embrace the "watch me" attitude to get it done anyway?
High School Students (Grades 9-12)
After George Floyd was killed in 2020, Mrs. Evers said she believes America is going backward in a lot of ways. Do you agree or disagree? In what ways were the protests and actions that followed Mr. Floyd's death in 2020 similar to the actions of the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and early 60s? In what ways were they different?
After watching her husband murdered in the driveway of their home, and seeing two all-white juries on two different occasions refuse to convict his killer, Myrlie Evers-Williams fled from Mississippi, vowing never to return. But in 2012, after 45 years away, she did return -- to serve as a faculty member at the university where the two met. Can you think of the courage that took -- and the pain she had to overlook -- to return for the sake of students? What courageous actions have you taken on behalf of your students? How can you continue to display courage to ensure they are receiving the best education possible?
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About the Series
A Black Child Can was founded to create a better world for students by empowering the adults around them with the knowledge they need to advocate on their behalf. The 2022 blog series builds on this foundation, encouraging educators to participate in the discussion and reflect on the ways they're showing up for their students.