America’s civil rights leader Joseph Lowery dies, aged 98


FILE PHOTO: Joseph Lowery waves after his speech at the Lincoln Memorial during 50th anniversary ceremonies of the 1963 March on Washington in Washington August 28, 2013. AREUTERS/Gary Cameron

(Reuters) – The Reverend Joseph Lowery, a key ally of Martin Luther King in the U.S. civil rights movement of the 1960s, died on Friday at age of 98, the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change said in a twitter post.

“Tonight, the great Reverend Joseph E. Lowery transitioned from earth to eternity. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. He was a champion for civil rights, a challenger of injustice, a dear friend to the King family,” the statement said

Lowery was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama in 2009, a few months after he had given the benediction at Obama’s inauguration.

Lowery was a former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an Atlanta-based civil rights organization formed in 1957 by Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders as bus boycotts across the South signaled a new era in the movement for racial equality.

Lowery served 20 years as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which played a major role in breaking down segregation, before stepping down in 1998. He had retired from the pulpit in 1997. But, he had continued working for racial equality into his 90s.

Reporting by Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri Navaratnam & Simon Cameron-Moore

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