Presented by President Barack Obama, civil rights leader Joseph Echols Lowery will be awarded with the Medal of Freedom which is America’s grandest award that can be awarded to a civilian. The announcement was made Thursday amongst a list of 16 others that were chosen to receive such grand recognition this year. August 12 will be when the medal is presented to Lowery at the White House.
Lowery can place his name amongst other great leaders in America that have received such an accolade with people like Martin Luther King, Jr., former President Jimmy Carter and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young.
Obama and Lowery have crossed paths before as they met back in 2007 in Selma at the 42nd anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday March.” He has also been a supporter during the election as he gave the benediction at Obama’s inauguration.
The Medal of Honor is rewarded to those that have shown a “meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or significant public or private endeavors.” The medal was made in 1945 by President Harry Truman as a means of paying homage and honoring civilians that were involved during World War II.
His work in Civil Rights began in the 1950’s after the arrest of Rosa Parks where he lead the Montgomery bus boycott and was also at the forefront as he lead the Alabama Civic Affairs Association which was devoted to the desegregation of buses and public places.
Along with being a civil rights leader, Lowery, 87, is also a minister at United Methodist Church and the co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference alongside Reverend King leading it from 1977 to 1997.
2004 also recognized Lowery for his contributions as he was honored at the “International Civil Rights Walk of Fame” at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Site in Atlanta. The Walk of Fame was established “to give recognition to those courageous soldiers of justice who sacrificed and struggled to make equality a reality for all,” according to the National Park Service.
The streets know his name as well as Ashby Street was renamed Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard in Atlanta, Georgia which is located near the Georgia Dome.
In regards to the work that he has put in during his lifetime, Lowery has remained humble and stated that he is content alone with just doing the work regardless if it was noticed or not.