Remembering the life, legacy and leadership of civil rights icon The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery
The world is mourning the death of a civil rights icon, pastor and former aide to Martin Luther King Jr.
The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery died Friday at his Atlanta home, according to his family. He was 98 years old.
Over the course of his life, Lowery fought to end racial discrimination and demanded equal rights for all. He spearheaded several civil rights activities in the 1950s and 1960s and continued to be a force for justice into the 21st century.
In 1957, Lowery co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with King. Lowery served as the organization’s vice president and chairman of the board. He went on to serve as SCLC president for two decades.
Lowery’s work earned him several awards and honorary doctoral degrees.
In 1997, he was deemed the “dean of the civil rights movement” by the NAACP and was awarded the organization’s lifetime achievement award.
In 2009, President Barack Obama presented Lowery with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Outside of his civil rights duties, Lowery was the pastor at United Methodist churches for more than 50 years. He once said, “I’ve never felt your ministry should be totally devoted to making a heavenly home. I thought it should also be devoted to making your home here heavenly.”
In 2013, Lowery’s wife, Evelyn Gibson Lowery, died. She had also worked alongside her husband in the civil rights movement for nearly 70 years. She had previously served as head of SCLC/WOMEN.
The Rev. Lowery is survived by two sons, three daughters and 12 grandchildren, according to the Washington Post.
In light of Lowery’s passing, Monday’s edition of “Closer Look with Rose Scott” features conversations with local leaders — from elected officials to faith leaders — reflecting on the life and legacy of the renowned minister and civil rights icon.
Featured guests and conversations:
- Civil rights pioneer Xernona Clayton
- Bishop Woodie W. White, retired United Methodist bishop and current mission board chair for the Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute
- Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin
- Richard Anderson, former CEO of Delta Air Lines
- Doug Shipman, president and Chief Executive Officer of the Woodruff Arts
- Jason Carter, former state senator and former Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia
- Former Georgia House of Representatives Minority Leader and former Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams
- Deborah Richardson, executive director of the International Human Trafficking Institute
- Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda.
- Melanie L. Campbell, president & CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
To listen to the full conversation, you can use the audio player above.