Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s choice of Myrlie Evers-​​Williams to deliver the invo­ca­tion at his second inau­gu­ra­tion shifts the nation’s gaze on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, ever so gently from the euphoric post-​​racialism of a black pres­i­dency to a legacy of racial vio­lence that has not yet been put to bed, as it also sig­nals, per­haps, the president’s inten­tion to devote public space to this still unset­tled issue.

By dint mostly of her own per­sis­tence, nearly three decades after her hus­band Medgar Evers was mur­dered, Evers-​​Williams suc­ceeded in having his case reopened. In so doing, she opened up chal­lenging ques­tions about how best to repair remote harms and to gain com­munal integrity from dif­fi­cult, and dif­fering mem­o­ries of the past. In 1994, after two pre­vious trials ended in a hung jury, her husband’s killer was con­victed. It was, she said, a moment of per­sonal peace and col­lec­tive jus­tice. What fol­lowed were fresh trials of many other civil rights era cold cases and, in spheres out­side the court­room, echoes of the new southern jus­tice in the form of public apolo­gies and truth processes.

Read the article at WBUR →