“When justice is denied, people can be left broke and may lose trust in all those claims of unbiased laws, thereby making them lose faith in the government. However, when justice is not available for you, you have got to fight for it.” These thoughts must have echoed her mind in her husband’s voice, when Myrlie Evers-Williams walked her way to receive the prestigious Humanitarian Award on 11th of May, after her name got announced at the University of Mississippi assembly hall. What makes this all the more commendable is that Myrlie is only third to receive this award and is first to be awarded with it in last ten years.
Before highlighting the work of Myrlie, it is vital to know about her slain husband Medgar Evers. Medgar had an ambition to study law and utilize this education in serving all those who have a case of ‘denied education’. He tried admittance in 1954 with this objective, but was denied admission. The Ole Miss Management could stop Medgar from entering the law school, but could not prevent him from dedicating his life to fighting for others for denied education, for justice, and from being in the active role of the NAACP field secretary.
Medgar’s relentless work succeeded when the first ever African-American became a law student at Ole Miss in 1962. But in less than nine months, Medgar was shot dead. However, his contribution in this area was already on fore as first major civil rights legislation got signed within another year of his assassination.
For Myrlie, it was a tough time after she lost her husband. Survival with three kids was itself a challenge but she also had to continue her husband’s work, with her first priority to find justice in case of Medgar’s brutal killing and sentence to Medgar’s killer. This struggle went on for three decades and it was only in 1994 that the guilty in Medgar’s murder case was convicted and sent for life prison.
Unstopping Myrlie went on to straighten the civil rights group’s economic situation and held the position of NAACP Chairwoman later on. Her previous year’s activities and achievements are countless, a predominant one of which is to render prayer at a presidential inauguration as the first woman to do so!
“Medgar’s admission denial back in 1954 was classic example of institutionalized discrimination. So this award to Myrlie Ever-Williams is a much sought after recognition of work the humanitarian couple has done and the sacrifice for which society is grateful. This is also an apology for that old time injustice which denied Medgar and many others admittance to the school and of course the trouble his family had to live with all through these years.”
We may hope that every word read in the award ceremony speech of Dan Jones, the Ole Miss Chancellor, must have reached Medgar.