The Reverend Joseph Lowery, a key ally of Martin Luther King in the U.S. civil rights movement of the 1960s, died late on Friday at the age of 98, his family said in a statement.
“Our beloved, Rev. Dr. Joseph Echols Lowery, made his transition peacefully at home at 10 p.m., Friday, March 27, at the age of 98. He was surrounded by his daughters,” Lowery’s family said.
Lowery was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama in 2009, a few months after he had given the benediction at Obama’s inauguration.
Lowery co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with King and other black ministers in 1957, to fight segregation across the U.S. South. He served for 20 years as its president before stepping down in 1998.