On Saturday, May 23, 2015, the Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery and his late wife, Dr. Evelyn Gibson Lowery, were honored beautifully at the “Builders of Movements and Monuments” statue unveiling ceremony which was held at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. The statue will be erected in Mermorial Park near existing statues of Rev. Hosea Williams, Congressman John Lewis, Amelia Boynton Robinson and Marie Foster directly across the street from the new home of the Voting Rights Museum and Institute on Hwy. 80.
Hosted by the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee Foundation, the first half of the ceremony was held outside in Memorial Park before migrating attendees indoors into the reception hall to escape the intense heat. Attendees included Selma Mayor George Patrick Evans, the families of Lowery and late civil rights activist James Orange, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s aide; SCLC President Charles Steele, Ruby Shinhoster, Sam Walker and a host of Civil Rights activists.
Mrs. Lowery, the founder of SCLC/Women’s Organizational Movement for Equality Now (circa 1979), started the Evelyn Gibson Lowery Civil Rights Heritage Tour, which visits several historic sites and meets with people instrumental in the Movement, and was a catalyst for the monuments constructed in memory of Viola Liuzzo, Rev. Hosea Williams, Earl T. Shinhoster, Coretta Scott King, Rev. James Orange, Rev. James Reeb, Albert Turner, Sr., Rosa Parks, and the Freedom Wall.
Organizers pointed out it was time to pay tribute to couples in the Movement, and fitting to immortalize the Lowerys for their leadership and contributions.
“I am used to honoring other people,” Dr. Lowery said tearfully during his acceptance speech. “I thank you from the depths of my heart. I don’t want Selma to let another harvest pass without Rose and her husband Hank. [Hank Sanders has served as a member of the Alabama State Senate since 1983. Faya Rose Toure is an attorney and civil rights activist.] Thank you for keeping Selma alive. The movie wasn’t perfect but no documentaries are perfect. But what it did do was inform a lot of people about the history of Selma. A lot of people didn’t know what you were talking about when you talked about ‘Bloody Sunday.’ Because of your vigilance, perseverance, activism … they know now and that movie has helped them know. Thank you for all you’ve done. Thank you from my wife Evelyn … I feel her over my shoulder. Every time I look at a pretty girl, I feel Evelyn.”
(Due to a transportation difficulty, the monument was not delivered and will be erected at a later date.)