Long-time civil rights leader, and controversial retired Methodist minister, Rev. Joseph Lowery, will deliver the benediction after the Obama inauguration. A stalwart campaigner for Obama, he also served as head of the campaign’s Voting Rights Committee. See photo, video and a biography of Dr. Joseph Lowery below.

Rev. Joseph E. Lowery

Reverend Joseph E. Lowery

On January 20th, just before 12 noon, Rev. Lowery will share the inaugural stage with Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA and author of the bestselling Purpose Driven Life. Warren will deliver the invocation. Lowery will give the benediction.

Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery – Biography

Reverend Lowery, sometimes said to be the “other” Jeremiah Wright, or Jeremiah Wright’s “twin,” is brashley spoken and left-leaning. Born on October 6, 1921, and now 87 years old, he is retired from the pulpit of Atlanta’s Cascade United Methodist Church. The Huntsville, Alabama native has lived a history-making life.

He co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, along with some of the most famous civil rights icons: Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy and Fred Shuttlesworth. He served as President of the SCLC for 11 years.

In 1965, Dr. King asked Joseph Lowery to deliver the “demands” and plans for three “Voting Rights” marches to then Governor George Wallace, best known for his pro-segregationst stance. It wasn’t until the third attempted march from Selma, AL to Montgomery, AL, that the marchers actually made it into the city of Montgomery. The route is now memorialized as a U.S. National Historic Trail.

In February 2008, Dr. Lowery spoke at the funeral of Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr. Below is a snippet of how CNN reported Lowery’s high-profile rebuke of President Bush.

We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there,” he said in a boisterous, rhyming oration. “But Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here — millions without health insurance, poverty abounds. For war, billions more, but no more for the poor.”

Lowery’s remarks and other barbs were met with bursts of applause. President Bush stood and embraced Lowery with a smile at the end of his comments.

Read the full report.

Two months later, he kept vigil with anti-war activist, Cindy Sheehan, and delivered an Easter Sunday sermon outside of President G.W. Bush’s Crawford, TX ranch, in protest of the Iraq War.

In 2008, The Washington Post says he titled his last sermon “The Four Fathers.” Delivered at Antioch Baptish Church North, he detailed how former Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, President-elect Barack Obama and Dr. Martin Luther King “have all ushered in new American eras.” Speaking of Barack Obama’s election, he said:

God did it. God was in the plan. Nobody else could have gotten these white folks to vote for a Negro named Barack Obama.”

Civil rights historian, David Garrow says that Lowery “is the best surviving link to Martin [King] and [Ralph] Abernathy.

As his visibility has increased with the announcement that he would speak at the inauguration, he is often quoted on same sex marriage, and sometimes quoted incorrectly, as you’ll see in the video below. His position, he says, is that he is for all civil rights for all people, which includes gay unions but not same sex marriage.

Dr. Lowery is the recipient of many prestigious awards: the NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, the Martin Luther King Center Peace Award, the National Urban League’s Whitney M. Young, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award, and twice named in Ebony magazine as one of the Fifteen Greatest Black Preachers.

Dr. Lowery and Evelyn Gibson married in 1948. They have three daughters and three grown grandchildren, one of whom, Vaughn Lowery, is an actor, comedian and model. Lowery has two sons from a former marriage.

Video courtesy of Eyeblast.tv

Rev. Joseph E. Lowery Interview