The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

June 11, 2013

Widow works to preserve Evers' civil-rights legacy

(Continued)

What would Medgar Evers think about American society now?

"I believe he would look at the landscape of this country and realize what so many of us have said: We have made progress but there's still so much to be done, and if we don't guard the progress we've made, that too will slip away," Evers-Williams said.

She spoke at the University of Mississippi graduation May 11, and the university gave her a humanitarian award — the third it has ever given. After the ceremony, she was attending a campus reception when James Meredith and his wife arrived.

"I ran to the door and I stood there and held my arms out," Evers-Williams recalled with a smile. "I said to him, 'You can't come in here unless you come through me.'"

It was an echo of long-dead segregationist governors.

"We had the biggest laugh," Evers-Williams said. "We laughed until we cried. Here we are, 50-plus years later, and we can do that now."

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