Civil rights hero Lowery honored at private Atlanta funeral

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A private funeral was held for the late civil rights icon Rev. Rev. Joseph Lowery in Atlanta Saturday.

A horse-drawn caisson attended by men in black suits and top hats carried casket to Westview Cemetery

Family of the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery gathered Saturday for a small, private funeral for the civil rights veteran who worked closely with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and decades later delivered a prayer before 1.8 million at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

RELATED: Civil rights legend Rev. Joseph Lowery has died

A horse-drawn caisson attended by men in black suits and top hats carried Lowery's casket to Westview Cemetery in Atlanta, where about 10 family members attended a graveside service. The procession first made stops at two churches where Lowery had served as pastor, as well as the nonprofit Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice and Human rights that he founded in 2001.

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Lowery, 98, died March 27 in Atlanta from what his family said were natural causes unrelated to the new virus. He was best known for helping King start the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the civil rights organization that Lowery went on to lead for two decades.

RELATED: Remembering the Rev. Joseph Lowery

Likely by coincidence, Lowery's funeral fell on the 52nd anniversary of King's assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.

Lowery gave the benediction at Obama's first inauguration in 2009. Later that year, Obama awarded Lowery the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

A public memorial service is planned for Oct. 6, which would have been Lowery's 99th birthday.

Lowery’s daughter, Cheryl Lowery, had previously said 10 family members would attend the funeral Saturday. Specific details of the service were not made public.

» Read and sign the online guestbook for Joseph Lowery

ExplorePhotos: Civil rights icon Joseph Lowery