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.