ATLANTA - Two days before the national holiday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the 95-year-old friend of the civil rights icon, Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, was bestowed the "Salute to Greatness" Award by The King Center at their annual gala held at the Hyatt Regency.
"Overwhelmed, humbled, unworthy," said Rev. Lowery of the honor, who called Dr. King "the greatest man who lived in this nation.
The man called the "Dean" of the Civil Rights Movement received the nation's highest civilian honor of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Dr. Lowery was a prominent figure in the Civil Rights movement, helping chair the delegation to deliver demands to Alabama Gov. George Wallace during the March 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery.
"He was always in the line of danger, always on the battlefield," said Ambassador Andrew Young at the gala, who told the story of how a bullet missed hitting Rev. Lowery. "But he never got that bitter. He never got that angry," Young said.
Rev. Lowery co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, and eventually served as president; he worked to negotiate promises from corporations for employment for minorities and support of contracts with minority businesses.
He also served as pastor of Cascade United Methodist Church from 1986 to 1992.
In 2001, he helped create the Joseph E. Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights at Clark Atlanta University.
He is married to activist Evelyn Gibson Lowery, and is the father of five children.
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