Rev. Joseph L. Lowery

Civil Rights Leader and third president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

The end of an era

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) mourns the passing of Rev. Joseph L. Lowery

From media reports


Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), issued the following statement regarding the passing of the Rev. Joseph L. Lowery, the civil rights organization’s third president, who died Friday evening at the age of 98.

The SCLC was co-founded and first led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy, who also co-founded the SCLC, was the civil rights organization’s second president. Rev. Lowery, another co-founder of the organization, led the SCLC from 1977 to 1997.

“Our prayers are extended to the family of Rev. Lowery, my dear friend, mentor and fellow comrade in the civil rights movement,” Steele said. “Rev. Lowery led our organization through some trying times. He was an exceptional visionary with tremendous follow through and he was very successful in taking the SCLC to the next level in terms of entrepreneurship, building the worldwide recognition of the organization and educating society about Dr. King’s philosophy and contributions. He was a highly effective leader.”

“He was very articulate,” Steele continued. “He had the gift of understanding people and working with individuals from all sectors of society. He was recognized as a great orator for delivering some powerful speeches, but he was just as gifted at motivating people from different cultures, religions and agendas to convene at the table to work together for the common good. With the problems we are addressing today around the world, he would continue to be that catalyst to bring folks together. He was that glue that kept us at the table until we found the solutions. That is what is missing today with current leadership. I had a very serious conversation with Dr. Lowery concerning the SCLC and the movement about nine months ago. It was just he and I. He said he was confident in my leadership. He was most appreciative of the new debt free headquarters for the organization. That endorsement elevated my credibility, because, in this day and time, leaders can’t depend on membership alone to take care of the needs of an organization. We must go around the world to build the thirst for people to support and be active in the SCLC. The people must believe in what we are doing and how we are working diligently to keep the legacy of Dr. King and the SCLC alive. While Dr. Lowery was mostly confined to his home over the past several years, he was still mentally sharp and full of wisdom. He motivated and stimulated us all until the very end. He will be missed.”

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