Muriel Lokey, 90: Peoplestown civil rights activist

In 2008, the Poverty Rights Office of Emmaus House was renamed for one of its most enthusiastic supporters: Muriel Lokey. For 40 years, Mrs. Lokey volunteered her services to Emmaus House, and the center, to ensure those who needed assistance received it.

“She understood that we are all humans,” said Fletcher Lokey, one of her three sons. “She understood that we are all in the world together, and that we do owe each other something, that we are connected.”

Muriel Mattson Lokey, of Atlanta, died Aug. 27 from complications of dementia. She was 90. A memorial service is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Atlanta. Her body was cremated by SouthCare Cremation & Funeral Society, Marietta.

The Poverty Rights Office at Emmaus House is named for Mrs. Muriel Lokey, who fought for the rights of children and those in the minority.

Mrs. Lokey came to live in Atlanta in the mid-‘40s, after her husband, Hamilton Lokey, finished his military service. The couple was married for 52 years when Mr. Lokey died in 1996.

A native of Tacoma, Wash., Mrs. Lokey, did not fit the mold of the average housewife, her son said. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1943 with a degree in sociology, and “had a Christian urge to serve,” Mr. Lokey said, of his mother.

While her husband worked as an attorney and politician, Mrs. Lokey fought against the oppression and discrimination of people of color. In the late ‘50s, the Lokeys were among the first supporters of H.O.P.E., Inc., which stood for Help Our Public Education, a nonprofit organization that worked to prevent public schools from closing during desegregation in Atlanta.

In the early-‘60s, Mrs. Lokey lent her support to Partners for Progress, an ally of H.O.P.E., which sought to help implement the Civil Rights Act of 1964. By the late-‘60’s Mrs. Lokey was a volunteer at Emmaus House in Peoplestown, and for 20 years was the director of the Poverty Rights Office, which is now called the Muriel Lokey Center.

“Her major activity was recruiting, and really inspiring, people to participate in things she considered very important,” said Rev. Austin Ford, founder of Emmaus House.

From making sure families got the food they needed from the government surplus warehouse, to making sure children involved in court cases were treated properly, Mrs. Lokey organized people to help with it all, Rev. Ford said.

“She wanted to help people as persons, not isolated members of a race,” Rev. Ford said. “That was very important to her.”

Mrs. Lokey is survived by two additional sons, Dr. Hamilton Lokey Jr. of Wheat Ridge, Colo., and William Mattson Lokey of Tacoma, Wash.; two daughters, Ann Montgomery Lokey of Mercer Island, Wash., and Rebecca Hazel Lokey of Decatur; 13 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

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