Evelyn Lowery, civil rights leader, dies at 88

Evelyn and Joseph Lowery are honored for their years of dedication to civil rights at Cascade United Methodist Church, Atlanta, in 2011. A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert.
Evelyn and Joseph Lowery are honored for their years of dedication to civil rights at Cascade United Methodist Church, Atlanta, in 2011. A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert.

Evelyn Gibson Lowery, 88, died Sept. 26 in her home in Atlanta after suffering a stroke on Sept. 18.

A public viewing will be held Sept. 30 at Cascade United Methodist Church, Atlanta, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The funeral will be held 9 a.m.Oct. 2 at Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College. The home-going celebration will begin at 11:30 a.m.

Mrs. Lowery was a civil rights leader and the wife of civil rights leader the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery. She founded the SCLC/W.O.M.E.N (Women’s Organization for Equality Now) in 1979 and created the annual Drum Major of Justice Awards, which are on April 4, the date of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s assassination.

The 2013 award went to Suzan Johnson Cook, U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, U.S. State Department.

“Having been a part of the civil rights movement from the beginning, I am very proud to present Drum Major Awards to these accomplished leaders. Each of the honorees, in their own way and respective areas, are answering Dr. King’s call to be a Drum Major for Justice,” Mrs. Lowery said.

When the Rev. Lowery wrote his book, Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land, he credited his wife’s role in the civil rights struggle.

“Evelyn, my wife of over 60 years, has been a good helpmate and lover; she’s been a wheel in the middle of a wheel; a shelter, a rudder and an inspiration,” he said. He noted that she marched beside him, went to jail with him and “almost lost her life when Klansmen shot at her car in Decatur, Ala.”

In a statement from the family released after her death, Rev. Lowery said, “My beloved Evelyn was a special woman, whose life was committed to service, especially around the issues of empowering women.  She was a wonderful mother and wife and I thank God that she didn’t suffer any pain and that I was blessed having her as my partner, my confidant and my best friend for close to 70 years.  I will miss her each and every day, but as a man of faith, I know that she is with her God.”

In lieu of flowers the family has asked that donations may be payable to either:
SCLC/Women, Inc.
Evelyn G. Lowery Civil Rights Heritage Educational Tour
328 Auburn Avenue
Atlanta, GA  30303

or

Joseph E. Lowery Institute
P.O. Box 92801
Atlanta, GA  30314

Condolences may be sent to the Lowery family at: 3121 Cascade road SW, Atlanta, GA  30311

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