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Rest in peace

Joseph Lowery, civil rights icon and MLK contemporary, dies at 98

March 28, 2020
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Civil rights leader Joseph Lowery died peacefully from natural causes Friday evening in Atlanta, his family said. He was 98.

Lowery was among the ministers who founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which practiced civil disobedience amid the height of racial unrest in the South. He went on to serve as the group's president for 20 years, during which he helped revive the struggling organization in the years following King's 1968 assassination. Before he took the helm, the SCLC had been mired in in-fighting and financial hardships, but Lowery helped raise money and re-focused on a new set of civil rights issues, per The Washington Post.

Lowery was known for working in the background behind King, who was the face of the movement. In 1965 in Alabama, after a five-day, 54-mile voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Lowery took protesters' demands to the state's segregationist Gov. George Wallace. In later years, he became a key supporter of former President Barack Obama and delivered the benediction at his inauguration in 2009. Later that year, Obama awarded Lowery the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Charles Ogletree, a Harvard Law School professor and civil rights lawyer, called Lowery "the most important bridge between the wonderful legacy of the civil rights movement and the message of hope and change that Obama expressed for the future."

Lowry is survived by his three daughters. Read more at The Washington Post and NBC News. Tim O'Donnell