The civil rights leader and the aide to Martin Luther King Jr, has died at the age of 98 on Friday, March 27. Joseph Lowery, the civil rights icon and founding father of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference passed away while being surrounded by his family.

Lowery has previously said that it was a police encounter that was momentous in him joining the civil rights movement. Lowery's work with Martin Luther King Jr led to several important aspects of the movement. He was often called "dean of the movement".

Once Lowery had said that he missed "Martin" and other civil rights leaders as they all had passed away before him. But, he said that he believes the god is keeping him for the purpose: "To address the injustices of the criminal justice system, particularly toward poor black men." According to Lowery, this was the last aspect of racial oppression in America's criminal justice system.

Rev Joseph Lowery
Rev Joseph Lowery Wikimedia Commons

Remembered by several across the US

Joseph Echols Lowery was born on October 29, 1921, in Alabama. His father was a small business owner and his mother was a part-time school teacher. Lowery has five children, two sons, and three daughters. He grew up in a town where the racial lines were defined by the Klu Klux Klan. This was a scare tactic against the African American people.

At the age of 12 or 13, Lowery had an encounter with a policeman which led him to work as a civil rights activist. After his graduation from college, he served as a Methodist minister in the congregations in Alabama and Georgia. He then became a peace activist and joined marches in Selma and Birmingham, Alabama. He served as a pastor for nearly fifty years in Central United Methodist and Cascade United Methodist in Atlanta, Georgia.

In the later part of the 1950s, as racial tensions started to rise in the country Lowery along with King started the Southern Christian Leadership Conference civil rights organization. The work by King and Lowery led to the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Upon Lowery's death, the King Center tweeted appreciation for the icon. He has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from US President Barack Obama in the year 2009.

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