Civil Rights Pioneer Evelyn Lowery Dies at 88

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  • ATLANTA (AP) — Evelyn Lowery, a pioneer in civil rights and women’s empowerment and the wife of the Rev. Joseph Lowery, died Thursday at her home in Georgia, a family spokeswoman said.

    Family spokeswoman Diane Larche said the 88-year-old Lowery died Thursday morning. She had been hospitalized since Sept. 18 after suffering a severe stroke and returned home on Wednesday night, after medical experts said the stroke had caused irreversible damage.

    Joseph Lowery said his wife devoted her life to serving others.

    “My beloved Evelyn was a special woman, whose life was committed to service, especially around the issues of empowering women,” Lowery, a past president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said in a statement to The Associated Press.

    The SCLC, which traces its beginnings to the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott, organized nonviolent protests as it pushed for an end to segregation around the South during the civil rights movement.

    Evelyn Lowery founded SCLC/WOMEN Inc. in 1979. The group works to empower women, girls and families. She also created the Drum Major for Justice Awards, held annually in April in Atlanta.

    “As a woman and warrior in the non-violent struggle for justice, Mrs. Evelyn Lowery boldly confronted the challenges of racism and sexism, never flinching, never failing in her commitment to the best in the American spirit,” said the Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King, Jr. and his father once preached.

    U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said he was chairing a Democratic Caucus meeting in the U.S. Capitol when he learned of Evelyn Lowery’s death and asked members to observe a moment of silence in her honor.

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