Printable Version

A Message from the President

Statement from Clayola Brown, President, A. Philip Randolph Institute; Board Member SCLC/ Women’s Organizational Movement for Equality Now, Inc. (W.O.M.E.N.)

September 26, 2013

Just a few short weeks ago, I stood with Mrs. Evelyn Lowery at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial as we waited to hear Dr. Joseph Lowery deliver his remarks during the commemoration of the anniversary of the 50th March on Washington. It struck me then, as it did when I first met this Matriarch of the Movement, that she was always there, as solid as the pillars which held up the monument in honor of the president whose Emancipation Proclamation represented the coveted dream of Freedom to so many African Americans.

She was always there—supporting her loving husband Joe, sustaining her “sisters in the struggle”, and serving an untold number of disenfranchised women, children and families across all boundaries of ethnicity, gender, age or religion.  From voting rights, to civil rights, to women’s rights, to human rights—Sister Evelyn Lowery was one of the original, authentic Freedom Fighters.

As I reflect on the many years that I served alongside her as a member on the SCLC/W.O.M.E.N., INC. board of directors, I can recall her gentle smile, the twinkle in her eye that spoke to her approachableness, but also the slight turn of the head that would signal the strong determination in her words that would be so clearly articulated that they would stop a room.

Her dedication and determination was so solid, so firmly fixed, that her every action spoke to her nurturing spirit to uphold the tenets of the civil rights movement, but also to lift the women’s rights within the movement.  She was responsible for honoring civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo, with a monument along the Freedom trail.

She never let us forget that the legacy that women held in the civil rights movement can only be matched by a few, because they were all partners for the struggle inside the movement:  Myrlie Evers, Corretta Scott King, Dr. Johnetta Cole, Dr. Christina King Farris, and Dr. Dorothy Irene Height, to name a few.  Despite the differences that might have been shaded by their sorority colors of pink and green or crimson and cream, the women were all “sisters in the struggle”.  For inside the SCLC, it was the SCLC women who kept the larger organization going.

It feels good to have had a chance to see her smile as we stood together that day.   One of my favorite hymns, “Let the work I’ve done speak for me” epitomizes the depth of Sister Lowery’s work.  It speaks volumes to the efforts she made securing rights for women in the deep South which the women in the North inherited.  A foot soldier whose shoes will take many of us to fill, we will miss her dearly.  

Rest, My Sister, Rest.