FILE - In this Aug. 14, 2013, file photo, civil rights leader the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery speaks at an event in Atlanta announcing state lawmakers from around the county have formed an alliance they say will combat restrictive voting laws, Lowery, a veteran civil rights leader who helped the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and fought against racial discrimination, died Friday, March 27, 2020, a family statement said. He was 98. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
Photo: David Goldman
Photo: David Goldman

Joseph Lowery funeral limited to family because of coronavirus

The family of the Rev. Joseph Lowery is planning a small, private service for the iconic civil rights leader because of the coronavirus.

In a statement posted on the website of The Joseph & Evelyn Lowery Institute, family members said that because of the pandemic a larger, public memorial will be held in late summer or early fall.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends social distancing — limiting contacts and avoiding crowds — to help prevent the spread of the dangerous virus.

“Our entire family is humbled and blessed by the overwhelming outpouring of love and support that has come from around the globe,” the family wrote in a statement. “We thank you for loving our father, Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, and for your continuous prayers during this time.”

Lowery, the former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and long-time pastor of Cascade United Methodist Church, died Friday at the age of 98.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, a civil rights contemporary and former presidential candidate, said he would have come to Atlanta for a large funeral befitting Lowery’s global stature but understands the situation that has essentially put the world on hold.

“I have been talking about Joe to people all over the nation, and everybody has been touched by his living and passing,” Jackson said Monday. “So he is having a national funeral, it just won’t be in a church with a lot of people. He lived a magnificent life. He was a long-distance runner with the gift of longevity.”

In lieu of flowers, cards or food, the Lowery family asks donations be made to The Joseph & Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights, which was founded in 2002 to further Lowery’s legacy of promoting non-violent advocacy among future generations.

Donations can be made online or sent to The Joseph & Evelyn Lowery Institute, P.O. Box 92801, Atlanta, Ga., 30314.

Photos and story: Horse-drawn carriage bears the Rev. Joseph Lowery to Westview Cemetery

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