The family of the late civil rights icons Joseph and Evelyn Lowery have donated an invaluable collection of official and personal papers, photographs, documents, writings, speeches, notes, travel diaries and other memorabilia to the Morehouse Middle School.
The Joseph Echols Lowery and Evelyn Gibson Lowery Collection includes over 400 linear feet of invaluable material chronicling the Lowerys’ work with civil and human rights leaders.
“My father operated in the spirit that ‘the world was his parish’,” said Cheryl Lowery, President and CEO of the Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice and Human Rights. “His words and his works knew no walls and extended beyond the pulpit into ‘the streets and suites’.”
Reverend Joseph Lowery, called the “Dean of the Civil Rights Movement,” helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and served as Founding Vice-President alongside Founding President Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
He was then chairman of the SCLC and president and CEO.
During Selma’s historic Montgomery suffrage march in Alabama, which began with the violent beating of non-violent protesters in what came to be known as “Bloody Sunday,” Lowery led the delegation delivering a list of demands to the former segregationist governor of Alabama, George Wallace. .
His peaceful activism for justice has resulted in numerous arrests and the seizure of his property by the state of Alabama in a landmark libel lawsuit, which resulted in justification by the United States Supreme Court. and a precedent protecting the right to freedom of expression of the press and citizens’ advocates.
Cheryl Lowery continued, “With that in mind, it is fitting that the Joseph Echols Lowery and Evelyn Gibson Lowery Collection is owned, hosted and fully accessible to the schools in University Center Atlanta that they loved and by which they were loved. I am also eternally grateful to have secured an incredible anonymous donor to fund the digitization of the work, especially as the Lowery Institute’s 20th anniversary approaches, on the occasion of what would have been the 100th anniversary of my father. It’s incredible.”
The collection will be archived and held in the Robert W. Woodruff Library at the Atlanta University Center (AUC) and used to provide academics, researchers, students and the general public with a genuine understanding of impact, sacrifice and the legacy of these civil rights. pioneers.
Clark University in Atlanta, home of the Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice and Human Rights, will hold exhibition rights.
The Lowery Collection will expand and enhance the assemblage of historical civil rights treasures entrusted to Morehouse, such as papers and other items that once belonged to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ’48 and are now part of the Morehouse College King Collection. .
The collection was offered in a spirit of collaboration and scholarship within the AUC and accessibility to all AUC institutions was the determining factor in the Lowery family’s donation decision.
As the founder of the Black Leadership Forum and the People’s Agenda, Dr. Joseph Lowery has consistently demonstrated his faith in the power of collaboration.
In addition to its physical accessibility, the collection will be digitized to provide wider online access in the coming months.
Morehouse is historically recognized for his essential roles in training human rights leaders, summoning thought leadership on equity issues, and generating social justice research and scholarship.
The donation highlights the institution’s historic role at the center of civil and human rights movements in the United States and its legacy of educating students and the world in the philosophy and practice of non-violent social change.
“No discussion of civil rights in America will ever be complete without reference to the contributions of Joseph and Evelyn Lowery,” said David A. Thomas, Ph.D., president of Morehouse College.
“We look forward to working with Clark Atlanta University, where the Lowery Institute is located, and other AUC institutions to ensure that the transformative work of the Lowerys is not only remembered, but also used to inspire, educate. and empower future generations of change agents. . “
Evelyn Gibson Lowery was a civil rights pioneer and agent of change. She created SCLC / WOMEN (Women’s Organizational Movement for Equality Now, Inc.), which instituted programs on global issues such as HIV / AIDS, IT and GED education for women, mentoring for women. girls and the history of civil rights.
She created 13 monuments honoring civil rights heroes while creating a civil rights heritage tour. She graduated from Clark College, now Clark Atlanta University.
“Clark Atlanta University has always been at the forefront of the civil rights movement and has been part of its history,” said George T. French Jr., Ph.D., president of Clark Atlanta University. “We are delighted to be part of this historic initiative and have the exhibition rights to the Joseph Echols Lowery and Evelyn Gibson Lowery collection. This historic collection will serve as an invaluable resource for our academics when they register with CAU. “
The AUC Woodruff Library will dedicate the next few months to providing expert care, detailed inventory and preservation, and ensuring wide accessibility, both physically and digitally.
The Lowery Collection expands the body of primary source material available for teaching, learning, and research at the Atlanta University Center and academics around the world.
“We are commended to be invited to care for this collection and to preserve and make available for learning and research further evidence of the Civil Rights era and the involvement of the Lowery family,” said said Loretta Parham, CEO and Library Director, AUC Woodruff Library.
Programming and opportunities to participate in the collection will be available over the next few months.