The head of the American civil rights movement and one of Martin Luther King’s main supporters in the human rights movement, Joseph Lowery, died on Friday at the age of 98, the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta reported, citing his relatives.
“Tonight, the Reverend Joseph I. Lowery passed from earth life to eternal life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. He was a civil rights activist, a fighter against injustice, and a dear friend of the King’s family. Thank you, sir,” said a message posted on Twitter by the King Center in Atlanta.
Tonight, the great Reverend Joseph E. Lowery transitioned from earth to eternity. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. He was a champion for civil rights, a challenger of injustice, a dear friend to the King family.
Thank you, sir.
[📸: MLK, Lowery, Wyatt Tee Walker] pic.twitter.com/PGHpBJJjNm
— The King Center (@TheKingCenter) March 28, 2020
Lowery was born in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1921. His father owned a small business, and his mother was a part-time school teacher. After graduating from College, Lowery became a Methodist Minister. Later he distinguished himself as a civic activist and began to fight against discrimination on grounds of race, participating in the organization of protests in Alabama. In 1957, when racial tensions were rising in the United States, he and King founded the Southern Christian leadership Conference. In particular, thanks to the activities of this organization in the United States in 1964, the “Civil Rights Act” was passed, making it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, gender or ethnicity. Lowery led the organization for more than two decades, but even after retiring in 1992, he continued to engage in human rights activism, advocating for gay minority rights, electoral reform, and opposing the death penalty.
In the last years of his life, Lowery received numerous awards recognizing his contribution to the development of civil society. In 2009, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Barack Obama, who was then President of the United States, gave it to him.