Rolling Out

Joseph Lowery, dean of the civil rights movement, dies at 98

Joseph Lowery, dean of the civil rights movement, dies at 98
Photo by Yvette Caslin for Steed Media

Joseph Lowery died on March 27, 2020, at the age of 98. The civil rights legend was born on Oct. 6, 1921, in Huntsville, Alabama, and began working as a prominent voice in the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1950s.

In 1957, Lowery formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and served as vice president until 1967. In 1965, Lowery led a march from Selma to Montgomery, which was known as “Bloody Sunday.”

During the 1970s, Lowery co-founded the Black Leadership Forum and began protesting apartheid in South Africa until the election of Nelson Mandela.

Lowery received numerous awards, including an NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2001, Clark Atlanta University established the Joseph & Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights. Later that same year, one of the best-known streets on the west side of Atlanta — the former Ashby Street —  was renamed Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard in his honor.

Lowery gave the benediction at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration in 2009 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony later that year. He continued helping others all of his days and will be sorely missed by many.

During this pandemic, it’s highly unlikely that Lowery will be given the funeral or homegoing service that he deserves.

—with additional reporting by Randy Fling

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