Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
The widow of slain Mississippi civil rights worker Medgar Evers will deliver the invocation at the inaugural swearing-in ceremony of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Monday, Jan. 21.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Tuesday that Mrs. Myrlie Evers-Williams was selected to perform the invocation and that the Rev. Louie Giglio will deliver the benediction at the ceremony.
Obama was involved in the selection of participants in the inaugural program, including Evers-Williams and Giglio.
“Vice President Biden and I are honored that Myrlie Evers-Williams and Rev. Louie Giglio will participate in the inaugural ceremony,” President Obama stated in a press release issued by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. “Their voices have inspired many people across this great nation within the faith community and beyond. Their careers reflect the ideals that the vice president and I continue to pursue for all Americans – justice, equality, and opportunity.”
Evers-Williams served as the chair of the NAACP from 1995 to 1998. The widow of Medgar Evers – a native of Decatur, and the NAACP’s Mississippi Field Secretary who in 1963 was gunned down in the driveway of his home in Jackson – she fought for 30 years to bring his assassin to justice, and preserves his legacy through the Medgar Evers Institute. An author of three books about their civil rights work, she currently serves as a distinguished scholar at Alcorn University in Lorman. Evers-Williams became the first black woman to head the Southern California Democratic Women’s Division. She has received 16 honorary degrees from leading colleges and universities in addition to numerous civil rights, human rights and community awards.
"I am humbled to have been asked to deliver the invocation for the 57th inauguration of the president of the United States — especially in light of this historical time in America when we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement,” Evers-Williams stated in the press release. “It is indeed an exhilarating experience to have the distinct honor of representing that era."
Giglio is the pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Ga., and the founder of Passion Conferences, a movement gathering college-aged young people since 1997 in events across the country and around the world. Most recently, Passion hosted more than 60,000 people at Passion 2013 in the Georgia Dome, uniting students in worship and prayer and raising awareness about modern-day slavery, human trafficking. In 2008, Giglio and his wife Shelley led the team that planted Passion City Church, a local community of faith with the spirit of the Passion movement.
“It is my privilege to have the opportunity to lead our nation in prayer at the upcoming inauguration in Washington, DC,” Giglio said in the press release. “During these days it is essential for our nation to stand together as one. And, as always, it is the right time to humble ourselves before our Maker. May we all look up to our God, from whom we can receive mercy, grace and truth to strengthen our lives, our families and our nation. I am honored to be invited by the president to lead our nation as we look up to God, and as we look ahead to a future that honors and reflects the One who has given us every good and perfect gift.”
Historically, inaugural ceremonies are not held on a Sunday because courts and other public institutions are not open. This year, in accordance with the requirements of the United States Constitution, President Obama and Vice President Biden will officially be sworn in on Sunday, Jan. 20. The following day, Monday, Jan. 21, a ceremonial swearing-in that is open to the public will take place on the west front of the United States Capitol.
The official swearing-in ceremony on Sunday is being planned by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. The ceremonial swearing-in on Monday is overseen by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.