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Monday, September 30, 2013

Evelyn Gibson Lowery: 1925-2013

Evelyn Lowery, the wife of civil rights leader Joseph E. Lowery, died Sept. 26, 2013, in her Atlanta home. She was 88. In this June 3, 1999, photo, Evelyn Lowery, founder and chair of the board of the SCLC/Women Inc., was preparing for the 20th anniversary celebration.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

It was a very rare occasion that Evelyn Lowery wasn’t at the side of her husband, the Rev. Joseph Lowery.
As he rose to prominence as one of the country’s leading figures in the civil rights movement, she was a constant companion, whether it was at a rally, march, news conference or in church. Conversely, as she established herself as a leader as founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference/WOMEN, her husband was a steady presence.

With one notable exception: It was in Decatur, Ala., on May 26, 1979.
Joseph Lowery was leading a march of nearly 2,000 in support of Tommy Lee Hines, a mentally disabled black man who was accused of raping a white woman and convicted in October 1978 by an all-white jury. Sensing the threat of danger, Lowery had his wife ride behind the marchers in the couple’s pale green 1977 Buick.

“The Klan had threatened violence,” Evelyn Lowery said in a 1985 interview with The Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I usually walk beside my husband, but he said I better not this time. So I drove the car.”
The car and the marchers were met by a mob of Klansmen. Several shots were fired. She barely escaped; two shots hit the Buick.

One bullet left a hole in the window frame on the driver’s side. The other shattered the windshield and lodged in the dashboard.

“I could hear them yelling ‘Kill ‘em all!’ ” she said. “It lasted probably about 10 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity.”

The Buick still sits in the Lowerys’ Atlanta garage as a reminder.

Evelyn Gibson Lowery died Thursday morning at her home from complications from a stroke. Lowery, 88, was hospitalized Sept. 18 after suffering the stroke at her home. She returned home from the hospital Wednesday.

The family will share a celebration of Evelyn Lowery’s life with the public in two events next week.
On Monday, there will be a public viewing from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Cascade United Methodist Church, 3144 Cascade Road in southwest Atlanta.

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