Reverend Joseph Lowery, a key ally of Martin Luther King’s 1960s civil rights movement, died late Friday at age 98, according to a statement from his family.
“Our beloved, Reverend Dr. Joseph Ekols Lowry, peacefully went home at 10 p.m. on Friday, March 27, at the age of 98. He was surrounded by his daughters,” says the Lowry family.
U.S. President Barack Obama in 2009 presented President Barack Obama with the Medal for Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the country, a few months after he received the blessing at Obama’s inauguration.
Lowry co-founded a South Christian Leadership Conference with King and other black ministers in 1957 to combat segregation across the United States. He served for 20 years as president and then resigned in 1998.
He continued to work for racial equality until the 90s.
He opposed South African apartheid, sought better conditions in American prisons, sought to expand economic opportunities for minorities, promoted AIDS education, and opposed what he saw as government indifference to the lower classes.
Lowry was married to Evelyn Gibson Lowery, who shared his activities for 63 years until her death in 2013. The Lowry Institute, now known as Joseph and Evelyn Lowry’s Institute for Justice and Human Rights, was founded in his honor in 2001 and was a member of his board.