Dean of Civil Rights Movement and Late Wife To Be Honored as Heroes, Saints & Legends

Dan Curran  /  February 15, 2018

The Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, and his late wife, Dr. Evelyn Gibson Lowery, will be recognized by the Foundation of Wesley Woods this April for their commitment to social justice, civil rights, and the use of nonviolent tactics to advance change while ministering to the spiritual needs of the oppressed.

The Lowerys, prominent Georgians who shared a commitment to helping older adults live independently longer, with a higher quality of life, have been selected for the honor by the board of the Foundation of Wesley Woods and named as 2018 Heroes, Saints & Legends honorees.

Named by the NAACP as the “dean” of the civil rights movement, Dr. Joseph E. Lowery was a prominent leader in the movement and a pastor in the United Methodist Church for 50 years. After Rosa Parks’ arrest in 1955, Lowery helped lead the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott and headed the Alabama Civic Affairs Association, an organization devoted to the desegregation of buses and public places. In 1957, along with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lowery founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Lowery led or participated in most of the major activities of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and led the SCLC as its president from 1977 to 1997.

Recognized for being a strong partner in their family, church and leadership activities, the late Dr. Evelyn Gibson Lowery was a civil rights leader and social activist in her own right. The founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference – Women’s Organizational Movement for Equality Now (SCLC/W.O.M.E.N. Inc.) organization, she began mentoring programs in Atlanta that continue today through the work of the Joseph & Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights. Among her many accomplishments during her lifetime were creating the Civil Rights Heritage Tour and advocating for AIDS education programs for the black community.

“The Lowerys’ courageous, far-reaching and inspiring commitment to justice and civil rights is an example for us all to stand up for what is right regardless of personal cost. They are the very faces of a hero, saint and legend and it is an honor for Wesley Woods to shine a light on their impact and legacy, especially so during Black History Month,” said Tracy Crump, president & CEO of the Foundation of Wesley Woods.

“I am pleased to accept this honor from the Foundation of Wesley Woods, a fine organization with a United Methodist tradition,” said Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, who was a pastor in the United Methodist Church for 50 years. “I was active in the movement for civil rights because I didn’t think you could serve the Lord without serving His people, just as Wesley Woods serves the people of Georgia.”

“The Lowerys were truly courageous at a time when being courageous came at great personal risk for one’s safety and life itself,” said Bishop Woodie W. White, a close friend of the family and a retired United Methodist bishop. “I believe they will be long remembered as being great cheerleaders for the causes of peace, reconciliation, and justice and inspiring people to realize that America could be a better America.”

In addition to the Lowerys, the 2018 Heroes, Saints & Legends honorees include Edward J. “Jack” Hardin, who is being honored for his commitment to solving homelessness, poverty, and health issues for the underprivileged and Merritt Steed Bond, who is being recognized for his commitment to addressing the challenges facing vulnerable older adults through connecting caring people in the community to vital ministries of The North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church.

The Heroes, Saints & Legends event will be held on Thursday, April 19, 2018, at 6 p.m. at Flourish located at 3143 Maple Drive Atlanta, Ga 30305. Funds raised will benefit Wesley Woods Senior Living’s independent living communities, which serve more than 1,800 older adults annually, 75 percent of whom require financial help to remain living in their Wesley Woods homes, and over 40 percent of whom are living below the poverty level. Funds also support specially designated Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease research and education programs at Emory University.

A sellout crowd of 300 people attended the 2017 event commending the accomplishments of the honorees. Heroes, Saints & Legends raised more than $260,000 for Wesley Woods’ ministry, which provides critical services to seniors who had outlived their financial resources, some of whom required higher levels of care that they would not have access to otherwise.

Sponsorship information and tickets for the 2018 event are available now at Donations in support of the mission of Wesley Woods may be made today at


About the Foundation of Wesley Woods
The Foundation of Wesley Woods is where caring people give so everyone can age with dignity. It serves as the connection point between the generosity of supporters in the community and the practical, life-changing work of Wesley Woods. Through the philanthropic support of our generous community, older adults of all income levels, races and faiths have a caring community and live thriving lives full of independence and contribution. Through the Foundation, significant benevolence care is extended to those individuals who have outlived their financial resources in order that they may remain in their homes.

About Wesley Woods Senior Living
Wesley Woods Senior Living supports healthy aging by helping older adults live independently longer, with a higher quality of life, via resident-centered communities. Founded in 1954 with the mission to assure all older adults age with grace, dignity and purpose, Wesley Woods provides safe, affordable residential housing and support services for older adults throughout North Georgia. It operates 10 residential communities, including five HUD communities, in Atlanta, Augusta, Athens, Blairsville, Roswell and Newnan. More than 1,800 older adults, 75% of whom will need financial assistance and over 40% of which live below the poverty line, are served annually in Wesley Woods residential communities, primarily in independent living settings. Some communities also include a continuum of care, which includes independent living services, assisted living services, memory care and skilled nursing care.

For additional information, please visit or follow the Foundation of Wesley Woods at, and

Since 1990, Heroes, Saints & Legends has honored individuals who through a lifetime commitment to philanthropy, volunteerism and devotion to the community have transformed lives. Heroes, Saints & Legends is noteworthy for both honoring community leaders and for raising awareness around the challenges many older adults face, and how we can work together to ensure all seniors across North Georgia live independently longer, with a higher quality of life.

Funds raised through Heroes, Saints & Legends benefit two organizations: the ministry of the Foundation of Wesley Woods and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease research of Emory University. Through the Foundation, caring supporters combat poverty and homelessness for the older adults living at Wesley Woods so they can age with grace, dignity and purpose.

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