Bangkok Post

Civil rights activist Joseph Lowery dead at 98 from natural causes

- BLOOMBERG

>>WASHINGTON: Joseph Lowery, the civil-rights activist who helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr and, 52 years later, blessed the inaugurati­on of the first black US president, Barack Obama, has died. He was 98.

He died on Friday at home in Atlanta of natural causes, the Associated Press reported, citing a statement from his family.

Lowery’s view of the injustices of segregated America came from his upbringing in racially divided Huntsville, Alabama, and his role as a Methodist minister in Mobile and Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1950s and 1960s. He worked with fellow ministers King and Ralph Abernathy to create the SCLC in 1957 and was president from 1977 to 1998.

Originally deemed too moderate by rivals for the top post, Lowery “led the organisati­on beyond traditiona­l civil rights issues with unflinchin­g outspokenn­ess”, according to Civil Rights: An A-to-Z Reference of the Movement That Changed America (2004), by Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates. That included fighting the white-minority-rule apartheid system in South Africa, urging the creation of a Palestinia­n state and criticisin­g US policy in Central America.

“He was a champion for civil rights, a challenger of injustice, a dear friend to the King family,” according to The King Center, a memorial to King and founded by his late wife, in a Twitter post confirming Lowery’s death. “Thank you, sir.”

Under Lowery, the SCLC reached accords with Shoney’s Inc under which the restaurant chain, criticised for its treatment of black employees, paid or pledged more than US$200 million (6.5 billion baht) to provide business opportunit­ies to minorities. Another agreement, with Publix Super Markets Inc, called for promoting black employees into management and signing contracts with minority-owned vendors.

He made waves at the funeral of Coretta Scott King in 2006 when, with President George W Bush looking on, he turned the discussion to the war in Iraq.

“We know now that there were no weapons of mass destructio­n over there,” he said.

 ??  ?? FRIEND OF MARTIN LUTHER: Barack Obama presents the Medal of Freedom to Joseph Lowery during a ceremony at the White House.
FRIEND OF MARTIN LUTHER: Barack Obama presents the Medal of Freedom to Joseph Lowery during a ceremony at the White House.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Thailand