Dean of Civil Rights Dr. Joseph E. Lowery Celebrates 96th Birthday
Photos by Jerome Dorn
Atlanta, GA – Five-time gospel Grammy winner, Yolanda Adams and Emmy Award winning actor, Keith David, the star of OWN’s megachurch drama “Greenleaf,” was the featured entertainment on Wednesday, October 4, 2017, when celebrities, dignitaries and activists from around world descend upon Atlanta to pay tribute to the “dean” of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Joseph Lowery, for his 96th birthday celebration. “Think Like A Man” producer, Will Packer; pastor and activist, Reverend Dr. William Barber; and attorney, Angela Rye; was among the honorees for the evening hosted by the Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights (Lowery Institute). A musical extravaganza, the gala began at 7:00 p.m., with a reception at 6:00 p.m. at The Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University.
“We’re excited to have the torchbearer for gospel and inspirational music, Yolanda Adams, perform,” expressed Cheryl Lowery, president of the Lowery Institute. “And accomplished actor, Keith David, who plays Bishop James on Oprah Winfrey’s “Greenleaf” series, will be lending his amazing vocals in song as well! Back in the day civil rights activists didn’t have much more than good intentions and good Godly music to keep them motivated and resilient. These two powerful voices will uplift us with the kind of Godly music that will empower future generations.”
The musical tribute, produced by Kenneth Green, will highlight milestones in Dr. Lowery’s lifelong commitment to the nonviolent fight for voting rights, economic equality and social justice. Nearly 100 of the Lowery Institute’s Change Agents will take part in the program to let Dr. Lowery know that his legacy is secure with them. Change Agents are college students trained at the Lowery Institute then assigned to elementary, middle and high schools to teach the principles of nonviolence coupled with conflict management and social and self-awareness.
Lowery says, in their respective areas, the honorees epitomize the theme of the event, Grounded in History: Soaring Towards the Future. “They understand the nexus between our past and our future. Will Packer is not only telling our stories, he is committed to employing and uplifting people of color. Rev. Barber is continuing the fight for justice with a focus on morality, and Angela Rye represents a new generation of fierce, educated activists.”
Receiving the Civil and Human Rights Award, Rev. Barber is Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina and architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement that gained national acclaim with its Moral Monday protests. The actions drew thousands of moral witnesses to the state legislature and resulted in more than 1,050 peaceful protesters being arrested, handcuffed and jailed.
Angela Rye will receive the Social Justice Award. The CNN political commentator and NPR analyst is the CEO of IMPACT Strategies, a nonprofit organization that seeks to encourage young professionals in economic empowerment, civic engagement, and political involvement. Rye served as executive director and general counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus and was senior advisor to the House Committee on Homeland Security under the leadership of Congressman Bennie G. Thompson.