Evelyn G. Lowery

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Evelyn G. Lowery
BornFebruary 16, 1925
DiedSeptember 26, 2013(2013-09-26) (aged 88)
OrganizationSCLC/W.O.M.E.N. Inc.
Lowery Institute
MovementCivil Rights Movement
Spouse(s)Joseph Lowery
AwardsRosa Parks Award

Evelyn Gibson Lowery (February 16, 1925 – September 26, 2013) was an American civil rights activist and leader.


Lowery was born in Memphis, Tennessee on February 16, 1925, and was the daughter of activists Rev. Dr. Harry and Evelyn Gibson. They provided her with the inspiration that became the foundation for a lifetime of involvement in human rights at both the national and international levels. Her father served as president of the Memphis chapter of the NAACP and her mother was involved in community organizations. She attended Clark College and Youngstown University. She married Rev. Joseph Lowery in 1950. He is President Emeritus of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement. She also marched in the historic Selma to Montgomery March in 1965, and re-enacted the trip several times.[1]

In 1979, seeing a special need for women and families, Lowery founded SCLC/Women’s Organizational Movement for Equality Now, Inc. (W.O.M.E.N.), the sister organization of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.[2] It was organized to champion the rights of women, children, families, and responding to the problems of the disenfranchised regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, or religion. Through that organization she spearheaded education and mentoring programs, HIV/AIDS awareness initiatives and raised over $350,000 for scholarships for high school seniors. Over the years, Lowery also took the lead in recognizing the contributions of fellow activists. She moved to develop coalitions and alliances with a variety of women's groups throughout the nation and other parts of the world.[3]

In 1980, Lowery created the Drum Major For Justice Award, held annually near the April 4th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the founding president of SCLC, who wanted to be remembered as "a Drum Major For Justice."[4] The awardees are recognized by their contributions to the cause of freedom, equality, and achievement in their professional fields. A partial list of awardees includes Rosa Parks, The Original Tuskegee Airmen, Rev. Hosea Williams, Maya Angelou, Harry Belafonte, Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Mae Jemison, Andrew Young, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., and James Meredith.[5] She was also responsible for the erection of the Civil Rights Freedom Wall in Perry County, Alabama,[6] and monuments honoring movement icons such as Viola Liuzzo, John Lewis and Hosea Williams.

In 2004 Lowery was herself honored at the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, located in Atlanta, Georgia.[7]


Lowery was hospitalized on September 18, 2013 after suffering a severe stroke. She died September 26, 2013 at her home in Georgia. She was 88.[8]


  1. ^ "Evelyn Lowery dies from stroke-related complications". 11alive.com. Archived from the original on 26 September 2013. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
  2. ^ A Woman of Substance! Archived 2008-03-10 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Civil rights activist Evelyn Lowery dies after stroke". CNN. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
  4. ^ Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
  5. ^ Drum Major for Justice website Archived 2008-03-12 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Heritage Educational Tour Archived 2008-03-08 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "EVELYN G. LOWERY". in.com. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
  8. ^ "Civil rights pioneer Evelyn Lowery dies at 88". Yahoo News. Retrieved 26 September 2013.

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