JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Civil Rights icon Myrlie Evers-Williams expressed her thoughts about the death of George Floyd, who died in May 2020 after a Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee onto his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving. The officer and three others have been charged in connection to Floyd’s death.
Evers-Williams’ husband and Civil Rights Activist, Medgar Evers, was shot and killed on June 12, 1963, outside their home in Jackson.
When asked about her reaction to Floyd’s death, she said, “Severe hurt, desperate anger. And by that I mean, an urge to strike back and hurt others of someone who have already hurt us. I remember Medgar’s words, ‘Myrlie, that is not the way to settle this issue.’ And it pulled me back into myself.”
“All the hurt, all the anger, all of the remembrances of my husband’s life, June 12, 1963, when he was shot down in the driveway of our home, where he had taught our three children and myself to fall to the floor if we ever heard a gunshot. And we did just the opposite. We knew what was happening. I ran to the door. That powerful gun had moved Medgar’s body from the car door around to the front of his door. I ran out screaming. I remember our three children crying, ‘Daddy, get up, get up, daddy, get up.’ And all of the blood that was there. I remember the gunshot that was fired from the neighbor next door because that was a part of the plan of something like that ever happened. It’s been years ago. I’m still in pain from that.”
“And I have tried to learn from the lessons that Medgar taught me. That if something like that happened, you use that anger as a force of good and try to change the system from which it came. I will tell you that’s a difficult thing to do. Of all of these years I have worked on that, and I thought I reached the point where I had accomplished it until now.”
“And I’m still having those nightmares. I’m still having that anger surge up within me. I look at the political forces in the country, particularly in the capital. I look at the murders that are happening now, and I am very frustrated. I cannot physically be out there in the streets protesting with everyone.”
“So you know, I’m trying to deal with my emotions and trying to think positively. I’m encouraging others to do the same thing. But my heart, my soul, my well-being at this point is in turmoil. So I resort to the only thing that I know my grandmother taught me to do, is be active.”
12 News asked Evers-Williams if there will be change after Floyd’s death.
“I hope, I believe that positive change will take place. Because positive change did take place after Medgar’s death. That man who cried out that he could not breathe and his life was taken from him, he was crying out for justice, he was crying out for equality, he was crying out for all people, regardless of race, creed or color, who believed in those things. I think change is coming. I believe that unfortunately his death is going to help move this country forward, because we are slipping backward at a very rapid rate.”
“An election is coming up, and I hope that people of good faith and hope will get out and cast their ballots and see that this administration is changed to a much better one. I can’t get out and beat the bushes, as we used to call it. I’m pushing 90 years of age. I still believe. I’m still strong… still have a big mouth. So I can speak what I feel.”
“And I hope that is something that people will understand and that they can embrace, and it will encourage the young, the middle aged, the old of all races, creeds and colors who believe in justice and equality to fight for the same things that Medgar fought for. And no one will have to lose a life after this.”
“But is that real? I don’t know. This is America, but the change will have to come from all of us who believe in justice and equality for all to get out there, to express that in positive ways and to vote, vote, vote and to change this administration.”
“I hope people in this country, in all races, creeds and colors, will see the importance of our coming together for what is a better United States of America than what is being proposed by the White House at this time. If we don’t, America is well on its way to being destructive.”
“This is the land of my birth, the land of my father, the land that my husband fought for and who died for it. And I cannot, regardless of age, keep my mouth shut as someone told me to do, because I believe in freedom, I believe in America, I believe in Medgar, I believe in all of the others who fought for justice. And to see these same things repeated time and time again is heartbreaking.”
“But, I do believe in the words of the song. If we keep pursuing justice and equality, if we don’t hide with fear, we will overcome this sooner than later.”