Civil rights icon Joseph Lowery admitted to hospital

The famed civil rights leader and Atlanta legend was admitted to Emory University Hospital Midtown's intensive care unit Saturday, but friends said his condition was not serious.

Lowery, who last summer received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor, was scheduled to attend an African American achievement award ceremony Saturday, but didn't make it, longtime friend and fellow civil rights leader Andrew Young told the AJC late Sunday.

"He was having shortness of breath, and he didn't come to the Trumpet Awards last night," Young said, adding that Lowery "has been in and out of the hospital before. I have not heard that it was serious. I think he was having some respiratory problems."

David Stokes, another friend, said Lowery initially expected to be sent home Monday.

The 88-year-old Lowery was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the signature civil rights group originally headed by Martin Luther King, Jr. Lowery was its president for two decades beginning in the late 1970s. Last year, Lowery spoke at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Stokes, who was the SCLC spokesman when Lowery was president, said the last time he remembers Lowery being admitted to a hospital was when his blood pressure dropped a year ago after preaching a sermon. It wasn't serious that time either, Stokes said.

- Staff reporter Marcus K. Garner contributed to this story.

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