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Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be Hardcover – January, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

Thrust into the public eye when she was 18 as the spouse of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, Myrlie Evers-Williams has developed a public persona that protects her extremely private life. In this courageous autobiography, she traces her evolution from "the daughter/niece/wife of..." to her own separate identity as a civil rights pioneer, successful businesswoman, and community leader. She explains in the introduction that she "was not always the hopeful, always strong single mother. I was not always nice and forgiving, compliant and ladylike. This is the Myrlie who speaks for herself as herself."

Evers-Williams speaks to all the rumors and assumptions that have been placed upon her as she reflects and discusses the events of her public and private lives. She explores her childhood in Mississippi, her college experiences, her marriage to Medgar Evers, the aftermath of his tragic assassination, her rise in corporate America, and her tenure as the chairperson for the NAACP. In this "instructional autobiography," she crafts wisdom from her own struggles with issues of identity and privacy, offering advice on coping with common struggles like financial independence, single motherhood, and workplace politics. Most importantly, though, Watch Me Fly documents the role of women in the civil rights movement in an unapologetic, honest account that adds a personal perspective to the events described in history books. --Amy Wan

From Publishers Weekly

Although Evers-Williams begins with the caveat that "this book is not about the civil rights movement, the NAACP, [or] Medgar Evers," it is largely about precisely those things. The memoir opens with the 1994 guilty verdict in the third trial of Byron de la Beckwith, the murderer of Medgar Evers, and then retraces Evers-Williams's life. Raised primarily by a grandmother who was a schoolteacher, she went on to marry civil rights hero Evers and, after he was murdered, completed undergraduate studies, worked in advertising, ran for L.A. City Councilwoman and became chairwoman of the NAACP?on whose board she now sits. The facts of Evers-Williams's life are nothing if not inspirational, but the book hovers uncomfortably between two impulses: to tell a history of her engagement with the civil rights movement and to offer a personal story of single motherhood and self-discovery. She succeeds much better in the second endeavor, particularly in her edgy description of her marriage to Evers: shortly after meeting her, he told his future wife he would "shape her into the kind of woman he wanted her to be," and he later dismissed her by saying she "dried [his] soul." The best sections focus on Evers-Williams's awakening to the realities of life as a single, black mother, realizing she knew nothing about how to establish a credit rating or how to finance education for herself and her children. Unfortunately, her writing is too full of cliches, hyperbole and sermonizing to make her account of the civil rights movement more than a footnote to other, more stirring histories of those epochal events.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Little Brown and Company; 1st edition (January 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316255203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316255202
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,062,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Cottingham on March 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A friend who knows that I will be traveling to Mississippi in the summer presented this book to me. She gave it to me to help me understand what I was getting into, but the book provided me with courage and knowledge that pertains to life outside of Mississippi. This is a book that everyone should read, young and old. I can't tell you how much it has touched me personally or how it stirred something that was hidden deep inside of me. Through Ms. Evers-Williams' wisdom, personal reflections, anecdotes, and trials she weaves a story of despair and triumph. This book has something in it for everyone, and regardless of color, age, gender, ethnicity, or political party (everything that could possibly divide you and I) this book will change thinking and express feelings that cannot be articulated. I learned about relationships and coping under intense pressure. She clarified so many things for me that I began highlighting the book, studying it as if she was going to test me on the material. But she won't test me, life will! Watch Me Fly is nothing less then a gift to the world, and it would be a great misfortune if this resource were not taken advantage of. I strongly encourage you to read it, immediately!!!
But not only did Watch Me Fly basically change my perspective on life and past situations, it also prepared me for the future. As Ms. Evers-Williams goes through life, sometimes winning and sometimes facing stumbling blocks, all of her lessons learned readied me for upcoming situations in my own life. Her triumphs are glorious; I found myself cheering out loud for her. Her successes and failures inspired me to take my first steps into the real world without fear, and I have a new confidence that cannot be broken. Her faith and perseverance nurtured my strengths, which resulted in a better outlook on life and Mississippi this summer. If Ms. Evers-Williams ever reads this, I want to tell her how much I appreciate her effort, it has really, really meant a lot to me.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is a heart-wrenching autobiography of a timid, young southern girl raised and influenced by two strong African American women, her grandmother and aunt, who prepared Myrlie to face a lifetime of struggle and survival. Myrlie Evers-Williams is a formidable personality and role-model.
I especially enjoyed the book's focus on Myrlie's personal life as opposed to the Civil Rights Movement, and the way I could relate to many of the childhood traditions she was raised by. Her suffering brought tears to my eyes as I read, as well as, a feeling of validation and peace in the direction of my life. At one juncture, Myrlie referred to her tendency to repress an observation until it was grammatically structured in her mind to perfection, thus running the risk of another more confident individual expressing her very idea. I must say I laughted at this self-editing process as it has been a personal fault of mine all my life-waiting for perfection before speaking and thereby missing the opportunity.
This book has also fueled my fire in questioning and remembering who I am and from whence I came. How far can I go back in my family tree, what are the family names, what are and were their personalities and how much of them do I bring to my life?
WATCH ME FLY should be read by all single mothers so they can see how a strong woman like Myrlie Evers-Williams once struggled and wrestled with the same types of obstacles they face everyday. Yet, Myrlie Evers-Williams not only survived but became successful in her own right.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Thanks to Myrlie for her selfless sharing of her experiences. She inspired me to take risks heretofore postponed. It is truly inspirational and moving.
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