We are a couple weeks away from the inauguration of President Obama’s second term in office. The last inauguration in 2009 brought record numbers of attendees to see the first African American man to be sworn in as President of the United States. This year, the President has chosen to do things a little differently. He has chosen Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers, to deliver the invocation, rather than a clergy member. She will be the first female to deliver the prayer.
President Obama continues to make a few “firsts”, as he’s done during his presidency, by also announcing that the benediction will be spoken by pastor Louie Giglio of Passion Conferences. The inaugural committee released a statement from the President regarding his choices for the widely publicized event:
“[The careers of Evers-Williams and Giglio] reflect the ideals that the Vice President and I continue to pursue for all Americans – justice, equality and opportunity.”
Mrs. Evers-Williams expressed her excitement about her role in the event. “It is indeed an exhilarating experience to have the distinct honor of representing [the civil rights era],” she admitted. Her late husband, who was the NAACP’s Mississippi field secretary, was murdered 50 years ago this year. Evers-Williams herself served as chairwoman of the NAACP from 1995 to 1998.
Choosing the window of a civil rights icon is definitely away from the norm, and also speaks to how historical this inauguration is, and how far the African-American Civil Rights Movement has come since the 1950s and 1960s. This year’s inaugural ceremony will take place Monday, January 21, the same day of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.