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The Rev. Joseph Lowery speaks during the Let Freedom Ring ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 2013 in Washington, D.C. The event was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Rev. Joseph Lowery speaks during the Let Freedom Ring ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 2013 in Washington, D.C. The event was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

'Truly a Civil Rights Hero': Rev. Joseph Lowery Dead at 98

"We've come too far, marched too long, prayed too hard, wept too bitterly, bled too profusely and died too young, to let anybody turn back the clock on our journey to justice," Lowery said in 2013.

Andrea Germanos

Justice advocates celebrated the achievements of Rev. Joseph Lowery on Saturday following news that the civil rights legend had died.

"Our beloved, Rev. Dr. Joseph Echols Lowery, made his transition peacefully at home at 10 pm, Friday, March 27, at the age of 98. He was surrounded by his daughters," a statement from Lowery's family said.

Dubbed the "dean" of the civil rights movement, Lowery's activism spanned decades. His achievements included co-founding, along with ally Martin Luther King, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), leading a successful bus boycott in Mobile, Alabama, and delivering the demands of the Selma-to-Montgomery March to then-Alabama Gov. George Wallace. Lowery also fought for environment justice and voting rights, denounced militarism, and, as United Methodist minister, was a celebrated preacher.

At age 91, at an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, he said, "We ain't going back." 

"We've come too far, marched too long, prayed too hard, wept too bitterly, bled too profusely and died too young, to let anybody turn back the clock on our journey to justice," Lowery said.

Counted among Lowery's achievements was being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by then-President Barack Obama.

Lowery had given the benediction at Obama's 2009 inauguration months earlier, saying, in part, "Now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance."

"And as we leave this mountain top," he continued, "help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family."


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