The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has selected Pomona College Alum and civil rights activist and scholar Myrlie Evers-Williams to deliver the invocation during President Barack Obama’s Jan. 21 inauguration ceremony.
She will be the first woman and non-clergy member to say the prayer that precedes the ceremonial oath, according to the Washington Post. Rev. Louie Giglio of the Passion City Church in Atlanta will deliver the benediction, officials said.
The ceremony is scheduled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It will be the second time the federal holiday has coincided with a Presidential Inauguration since President Bill Clinton’s second Inauguration in 1997, according to members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
“This year is the 50th anniversary of the death of Medger Evers, Evers-Williams' husband who was a civil rights leader assassinated in front of their Mississippi home in 1963,” officials with Pomona College wrote in a news release. “The couple had worked together throughout the 1950s and early 1960s organizing voter registration drives and civil rights demonstrations.”
After her husband's death, Evers-Williams moved to Claremont with her three children, college officials wrote.
While still a student studying sociology at Pomona College, Evers-Williams wrote For Us, the Living, which chronicled her late husband's life and work, according to the college.
She was the first black woman to serve as head of the Board of Public Works of Los Angeles and, in 1995, became the first woman to head the NAACP, according to her bio.
Her autobiography, Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be, was published in 1999. She is a distinguished scholar at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Miss., according to the bio. Her work and persistence kept her late husband's murder case open for 30 years; his murderer was convicted in 1994.