Presidential Medal of Freedom for Lowery

From United Methodist News Service:

The Rev. Joseph Lowery, 87, a United Methodist pastor and leader in the civil rights movement, is one of 16 people who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest honor for a civilian.

Lowery said he was especially honored to be in President Obama’s “first class” of award recipients. The medals will be presented at a White House ceremony Aug. 12.

“I’m really excited to be in the company of the wonderful people that comprise the first class the president has named since he has been in office,” Lowery told United Methodist News Service July 31.

… Lowery co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957 and served as its president and chief executive officer for 20 years, beginning in 1977. King named him chairman of the delegation to take the demands of the Selma-to-Montgomery march in 1965 to Alabama Gov. George Wallace. Wallace had ordered the marchers beaten—an episode that became known as “Bloody Sunday”—but apologized to Lowery in 1995 as the civil rights pioneer led the 30th anniversary re-enactment of the historic march that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.