ATLANTA – As actress, Cassi Davis, and journalist, Roland S. Martin, kept the program moving, civil rights pioneers Christine King Farris and Rev. C. T. Vivian, joined new-school leaders like Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, nearly 100 student Change Agents,Â and over 500 attendeesÂ to celebrateÂ Rev.Â Dr. Joseph E. Lowery’s 98th birthday. Presented recently by theÂ Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice and Human Rights(Lowery Institute), the evening included performances by award-winning vocalists Regina Belle and Y’Anna Crawley.
“Many of the soldiers in the Civil Rights Movement who traveled with us on our journey to justice are no longer here,”Â Rev. VivianÂ noted in his moving remarks to Rev. Lowery. “It’s truly a privilege for me to be here to celebrate your birthday with you,”Â addedÂ the former lieutenant to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Rev. LoweryÂ shared, “I feel blessed to be here to celebrate my birthday with my family, friends and so many chaplains of the common good. I’m proud to see the Lowery Institute Change Agents, who are our future leaders, and alumni of the institute who’ve graduated and are continuing to be of service to people in need.”
The Change Agents were excited to celebrate myÂ dad’sÂ birthday,” saidÂ Cheryl Lowery, president and CEO of the Lowery Institute. “They asked him what he wanted when they interviewed him for their weekly podcast. He said he wanted them to get people registered and make sure they vote. They decided to gather names from people across the country that wanted to sign a birthday card and also pledge to vote. They collected over 200 names from California to Africa.”
Known as the “Dean” of the Civil Rights Movement, Rev. Lowery assumed and executed a diverse series of roles over the span of his life: leader, pastor, servant, father, husband, freedom fighter and advocate. The close confidante to Dr. King played an integral role in the passing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and four decades later proudly delivered the benediction during President Obama’s Inauguration. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in recognition of his lifelong commitment to the nonviolent struggle for justice, human rights, economic equality, and voting rights.