Presidential Inaugural 2013: Myrlie Evers-Williams Says Invocation Prayer to Focus on America, World Today

(Photo Credit: U.S. Navy / MC3 Christopher S. Johnson)Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of civil rights activist Medgar Evers, delivers remarks during the christening ceremony Nov. 12 for the USNS Medgar Evers.

Civil rights leader Myrlie Evers-Williams, who was selected as the first laywoman to give the invocation at President Obama's public inaugural ceremony January 21 in Washington D.C. says her prayer will touch on issues happening in America today and around the world.

"I hope to express feelings that are true, that are honest, that are open and maybe a wee bit insightful in terms of what is happening in America today and in the world as a whole," she told Religion News Service.

Evers-Williams says her religious affiliations have included being a Baptist, Methodist and a Presbyterian, depending on where she has lived.

The 79-year old widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, continues to be active in the civil rights movement and is also working to keep the memory of her late husband alive. She was chair of the NAACP from 1995 to 1998 and a scholar at Alcorn State University in Mississippi.

The inauguration comes on the 50th anniversary of her husband's 1963 killing by a white supremacist sniper. The murderer was convicted in 1994 after two previous trials ended with hung juries. The Mississippi Supreme Court rejected arguments that the third trial would place him in double jeopardy.

Evers was a field official of the organization from Mississippi who was gunned down in the driveway of his home in Jackson, Mississippi. His activities included working to investigate crimes committed against blacks.

"I have always wanted to see Medgar be recognized for what he did. Medgar's remains are in Arlington Cemetery, only about four to five miles away from the spot where the inauguration will take place. It's kind of a miracle for me that all of this is happening at this particular time," Evers-Williams told RNS.

Commenting on Obama's being sworn into office using a King James Bible on Martin Luther King Day, Evers-Williams told the news service that it will send the message that "America is strong, that America does believe in equality for all."

Evers-Williams was also asked to comment on the decision by the Rev. Louis Giglio to withdraw last week from giving the benediction at the inaugural after pressure from gay rights activists and his decision not to be part of a debate on homosexuality at a time when America is deeply divided.

He believes that homosexuality is a sin while the Obama administration supports gay marriage.

The announcement of Giglio's declining to speak at the inaugural ceremony has sparked a controversial debate over whether his views on a particular issue such as gay marriage or homosexuality should rule him out as a participant of the presidential event.

"I'm simply delighted that I was not so controversial that I would step down or be asked to step down," Evers-Williams said.

Correction: An article posted on January 14, 2013 inccorrectly stated that Myrelie Evers-Williams replaced the Rev. Louis Giglio for the presidential inaugural. Evers-Williams was chosen to give the invocation. Rev. Giglio was chosen for the benediction. A replacement for Rev. Giglio has not yet been announced.

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