Thursday, October 6, 2011

AARL Salutes Civil Rights Veteran

Joseph Lowery poses in front of the Motor Voter Bus. Since integration, Lowery has continued his civil rights work in such areas as black voter registration, affirmative action, and AIDS education.

Ninety years ago today, Civil Rights activist Joseph Echols Lowery was born in Huntsville, Alabama. Lowery is a founding member and former president of the civil rights organization SCLC, or the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. A graduate of Paine College and Paine’s Theological Seminary in Augusta, Ga., Lowery also received his doctorate in divinity at the Chicago Ecumenical Institute. Though he has pastored churches in both Alabama and Georgia, Rev. Lowery is well- known for his role in leading the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and the March on Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For over 40 years Lowery has dedicated his life to preaching and advocating for those in need.

Joseph Lowery stands before the SCLC headquarters in Atlanta. In 1977 Lowery succeeded Ralph Abernathy as president of the SCLC, which has been based in Atlanta since its inception in 1957.

 An undying supporter of nonviolent resistance, Lowery used this peaceful method to combat segregation, and encourage the improvement of black voting rights, labor rights, affirmative action, and education. A seasoned expert in mobilizing, Lowery forged ahead into the 21st century, remaining just as relevant in challenging contemporary ails of the day, including police brutality and other global pertinent issues.
He was even instrumental in fighting against the unjust system of apartheid that put former South African president Nelson Mandela in jail. One of his more recent accomplishments took place in 2009, when Lowery performed the benediction for President Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremony. In celebration of the resilient mover and shaker he is, the Auburn Avenue Research Library would like to wish Rev. Lowery a happy 90th birthday.
Though Lowery is still hanging on to his personal papers and memoirs, many of his countless honors and work in the community has been documented within AARL’s collections. More specifically in our collections on Andrew Young and Hosea Williams. Come thumb through our archives division to see some of our exclusive materials. 
The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery will be celebrating his birthday Sunday evening, in a star-studded soiree at the Atlanta Symphony Hall. For information on tickets, visit

Kirkland, W M. "Joseph Lowery." The New Georgia Encyclopedia.
The HistoryMakers. "Rev. Joseph Lowery Biography ."

Posted by Yewande Addie, AARL Intern

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