Pomona College Receives the Personal Archives of Myrlie Evers-Williams

Myrlie Evers-Williams, the long-time civil rights leader and former chair of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is donating her personal archives to her alma mater, Pomona College in Claremont, California.

A native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, she attended what is now Alcorn State University in Mississippi, where she met her future husband Medgar Evers. After Medgar Evers was appointed field secretary for the NAACP in Mississippi in 1954, the couple worked together on voting rights campaigns and efforts to end school segreation. In 1962, their home was firebombed. On June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers was assassinated while standing in the driveway of his home.

After two all-White juries failed to reach a verdict in trials of the suspected murderer of her husband, Myrlie Evers moved to California. (Medgar Evers’ murderer later was convicted of the crime in 1994.) She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology at Pomona College. Myrlie Evers ran unsuccessfully for Congress and then worked in advertising and directed community affairs for the Atlantic Richfield Inc. She later served on the Los Angeles Board of Public Works. In 1995, she was elected chair of the NAACP.

Now 90 years old, Evers-Williams has donated her extensive archives to Pomona College. The collection focuses on her life after moving to California in 1964; the Mississippi state archives are home to the Medgar Wiley and Myrlie Beasley Evers Papers, covering their early years in that state.

The collection, consisting of more than 250 linear feet of documents, ephemera and artifacts, contains thousands of items. Included are photos of her with presidents ranging from Kennedy to Carter to Clinton; buttons, pamphlets and photos from her own 1970 run for Congress; transcripts and correspondence from her 2007 testimony before Congress; and correspondence related to her preparation for the second Obama inauguration, where she gave the invocation. Personal items include her Pomona College ID card, a hardhat from her time as a Los Angeles Public Works Commissioner and the dress she wore while performing piano at Carnegie Hall, fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Pomona College will preserve the collection for both academic and, in time, public access through The Claremont Colleges Library, where archivists are organizing and cataloguing the material spanning six decades.

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