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Evelyn Lowery Dies

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Photo by: Jean Ross CBS Radio

Photo by: Jean Ross CBS Radio

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Atlanta (WAOK)- The family of Mrs. Evelyn Lowery has confirmed that she passed away today after suffering a massive stroke over a week ago.

“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,” stated Rev. Joseph Lowery.  “My entire family has been overwhelmed by the continuous outpourings of love, support and prayers that have come from across the country and we ask for your continued prayers over the next few days.”

Evelyn Lowery was born in 1925 in Memphis, Tennessee to Rev. Dr. Harry and Evelyn Gibson. She attended Clark College and Youngstown University and in 1948 married the Rev.  Joseph Lowery. The daughter of activists, Lowery has provided inspiration to many people through her life of involvement with human rights at local, regional, national, and international levels.

Working alongside her husband – who is currently President Emeritus of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference – she played a passionate role during the American Civil Rights Movement; participating in the historic Selma to Montgomery “Bloody Sunday” march in 1965, and several times after.

Lowery became tired of witnessing the rights of women, children, and families not being upheld which prompted her to found the SCLC/ Women’s Organizational Movement for Equality Now Incorporated in 1979.

The organization was created to positively react and be responsive to the problems that marginalized people face regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, or religion. Through Mrs. Lowery’s unwavering guidance, the SCLC/ W.O.M.E.N. Inc. has grown into an international association, organizing a substantial amount of education and mentoring programs as well as HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns throughout the world.

Mrs. Lowery marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and cited him as an inspiring force to her movement. She created the Drum Major for Justice Award in 1980, to honor Dr. King by presenting it to a person who has demonstrated an exemplary passion for human rights. The award is presented annually near the April 4 assassination of Dr. King.

In addition, she contributed to the erection of the Civil Rights Freedom Wall at the Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama.

Mrs. Lowery also made many influential contributions to human rights, such as being specially appointed by the former Mayor Maynard Jackson to arrange clothes for missing or murdered children for burial, as well as on the Metro Christian Council of Atlanta Board of Directors.

Mrs. Lowery received countless awards for her efforts including the Rosa Parks Award, the APEX Museum’s Tribute Award, the YWCA Academy of Women Achievers Award, as well as being recognized as one of the 100 most influential women in Atlanta by the Atlanta Business League’s Women of Vision.

In 2004, Mrs. Lowery was honored at the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia.

Several members of the national and local civil rights community have expressed their condolences over the death of Mrs. Lowery.

Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors:
“A pioneer and champion in the civil rights movement has passed on,” stated Roslyn M. Brock. “Evelyn Lowery’s leadership was essential to the longevity and power behind the movement for equality. Ms. Lowery was a drum major for justice in her own right. Her spirit lives on in the initiatives she founded and in the activists she mentored across the nation.”

Benjamin Todd Jealous, President & CEO of the NAACP:
“Today, we mourn the passing of a champion for civil and human rights,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “Ms. Lowery’s foresight and leadership pushed the envelope of what organizations like the SCLC and the NAACP could do for women and families. Her legacy lives on in the coalitions she built and the strong foundation she laid. She was a hero and will be truly missed.”

The King Center’s chief executive officer, Bernice A. King today issued the following statement on the death of Ms. Evelyn Gibson Lowery:

“I am deeply saddened by the death of Mrs. Evelyn Gibson Lowery, and my heart goes out to her husband, Dr. Joseph E. Lowery and their three daughters, Yvonne Kennedy, Karen Lowery and Cheryl Lowery-Osborne. We are never prepared to say “goodbye” to a loved “Evelyn Lowery was not only the beloved wife and active partner of one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders, but one of the most admired and respected veterans of the American Civil Rights Movement.  She was a dedicated and energetic leader in her own right. “The King Center joins the civil rights community in mourning the loss of our dear sister, Mrs. Evelyn G. Lowery. But we celebrate her life as a good and faithful servant of God and humanity, whose indelible contributions will continue to inspire us as we carry forward the struggle into the future.”

Rep. John Lewis made this statement upon hearing about the passing of Mrs. Evelyn Gibson Lowery.

“When I heard that Mrs. Evelyn Lowery had passed, I was actually chairing a Whip meeting for the Democratic Caucus in the U.S. Capitol.   I asked all the members to stop for a moment of silence in her honor.  Mrs. Lowery was a pillar of our community, a valuable participant in the struggle for civil rights, and an admired role model to the young people she mentored.   She was supported her husband in all his work, but she was a leader in her own right, born into the struggle through the activism of her parents in Memphis, Tennessee.

Her steadfast devotion to her husband was admirable, and her unwavering commitment to the issues of social justice will be hard to replace.  Mrs. Lowery will be deeply missed.”

Lowery suffered a massive stroke on September 18. She was hospitalized with irreversible brain damage for a week. The family made the decision to bring her home to spend her final time around family.

Mrs. Evelyn Lowery was 88.

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