Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Several people have already asked me to distill it - what was my favorite moment or memory? With so many to choose from, you'd think it would be hard but it was not. Without question, hearing from the widow of civil rights activist Medgar Evers was the best moment of the entire trip. When I was boarding my flight back - I kept remembering her words.
"As we sing the words of belief, ‘this is my country,’ let us act upon the meaning that everyone is included. May the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of every woman, man, boy and girl be honored. May all your people, especially the least of these, flourish in our blessed nation. One hundred fifty years after the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years after the March on Washington, we celebrate the spirit of our ancestors, which has allowed us to move from a nation of unborn hopes and a history of disenfranchised [votes] to today’s expression of a more perfect union.”
Her country. My country. Your country. Our country.
This, from a woman who in her younger years witnessed her young husband gunned down in their carport with their 3 young children nearby. I bristled, not at the cold wind that blew after hours of standing outside, no. I bristled thinking that many people NEVER come back from what she experienced. Their lives get torn apart by something or someone beyond their own control and they never recover. Never.
Yet, before me - before the world, this woman, Myrlie Evers-Williams took an extraordinarily difficult and painful situation and converted it to her own triumph. To mine. To ours.
Google her. She talks about very openly about the years she spent many years in the wake of her tragedy hopeless, bitter and vengeful. But alas she forgave. Not for Byron De la Beckwith, the white supremacist who took her husband's life. She forgave for herself, her kids and even for me. Any other path she may have chosen would not have enabled her to have the impact she's had on our country's comeback. And the comeback is still happening. People like Myrlie are reminder of our broken and bitter past that we must face in order to truly move our country forward to the future we all say we want - peace, justice and equality for all.
Myrlie Evers-Williams made history at the 57th Inauguration being the first woman and first layperson to deliver the inaugural invocation. I am so proud of her and humbled to have been in the same space she occupied, even for a moment. Her struggle and triumph is fuel for me and my endeavors. Her husband literally gave his life so that I can do what I am doing today, in this great country - pursuing my dream.
Thanks Ms. Evers-Williams, I am so grateful for all you've done and continue to do. You are the epitome of hope for the United States of America