From working with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to delivering the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration, Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery is a prominent figure in civil rights activism. On Friday, Jan. 22, members of the University of Rochester community are invited to hear Lowery's message of equality as he delivers the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address. Free and open to the public, the address begins at 6 p.m. in Strong Auditorium on the River Campus.
Dubbed the "Dean of the Civil Rights Movement" by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Lowery's work in social justice has spanned more than half a century. His involvement in the movement began in the mid-1950s and he was at the forefront of the Montgomery bus boycott in the wake of Rosa Parks' arrest. As leader of the Alabama Civic Affairs Association, his efforts focused heavily on the desegregation of buses and public places and workforce equality. Over the course of three decades, Lowery also served in several leadership roles with the SCLC, including president and CEO.
Lowery was born in Huntsville, Ala. in 1921. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Paine College. He earned his doctorate of divinity from the Chicago Ecumenical Institute and served as a minister in the United Methodist Church until his retirement. He has been honored with the NAACP's Lifetime Achievement Award, the Martin Luther King Center Peace Award, and has received honorary degrees from numerous colleges and universities across the nation. In August 2009, President Obama presented Lowery with the nation's highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom."We are honored to have the Reverend Joseph Lowery as our Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address speaker," says Norman Burnett, chair of the College Diversity Roundtable and director of the Office of Minority Student Affairs. "Lowery's important work with Dr. King and his legacy of social justice and racial tolerance serve as a true inspiration to the Rochester community."
The culmination of a weeklong celebration of Dr. King's life, the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address is sponsored by the College Diversity Roundtable and the Office of the President. The week includes a volunteer service activity in the 19th Ward and an interfaith service in honor of Dr. King at the University's Interfaith Chapel on Thursday, Jan. 21 at 5:30 p.m.
Note to Editors: Press availability with Lowery will be scheduled from 3 to 3 :50 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 22, in the Welles-Brown Room of the Rush Rhees Library. Interviews can also be scheduled by e-mailing Melissa Greco Lopes at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 585.276.3693.