Evers-Williams, Erving speak to students at Freedom Forum - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Evers-Williams, Erving speak to students at Freedom Forum

By Ben Watson - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Hours before they were set to receive Freedom Awards from the National Civil Rights Museum, award recipients Myrlie Evers-Williams and Julius 'Dr. J' Erving spoke to a large crowd Tuesday morning at Temple of Deliverance Church.

After being she was introduced by American Idol's Lil Rounds, a short film told Myrlie Evers-Williams tragic story. In 1963, she was thrust into the fight for civil rights after her husband, NAACP Field Director Medgar Evans, was assassinated.

"I have always worked so very hard to see that Medgar Evers was known was appreciated, with no idea of having any kind of tribute paid to me," she said.

Evers-Williams told the audience she overcame challenges by always striving to do her best, challenging the students at Tuesday's event to follow that example.

"Grasp everything that is there for you to learn to accomplish," she said. "Don't waste your time with lots of frivolity."

When it was time for Dr. J's video, the screens lit up with his NBA highlights.  Erving, however, kept his speech low key.

"For me, I used to get simple pleasures out of enjoying my life," he said. "Living in a house in the projects, you know, I was in a broken home."

Erving talked about the ups and downs of life, the determination of his mother and the pain caused when his father and brother died.  Erving said mentors helped him get his life on track, and he urged students to do the best that they can do.

"This is your time," he said. "This is your cue. Wake up and take a little more seriously the things that are happening around you and take heed."

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