Mrs. Evelyn Gibson Lowery
A Woman of Substance
Evelyn Gibson Lowery was born in Wichita, Kansas to Rev. Harry B. and Evelyn Gibson on February 16th, 1925. Her home life shaped the pivotal role that she would play in history; her compassion and dedication to justice qualified her as a civil rights activist and leader in her own right.
Evelyn found inspiration and commitment to social activism growing up in a home where not only were her parents involved in the life of the Methodist church but in civic and community organizations as well. Her father served at a number of Methodist churches in Kansas, Alabama, and Tennessee- the latter of which her father served as the President of the local NAACP.
Mrs. Lowery attended Youngstown University and Clark College where she pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Upon graduation, it was her intent to become a social worker. However, while living in Birmingham, AL, her sister introduced her to a young minister pastoring a local church. That minister was Dr. Joseph Echols Lowery. They were joined in marriage on May 5, 1948.
To some extent, Mrs. Lowery’s “social work” became her ministry as a Pastor’s wife as Dr. Lowery pastored Warren Methodist, in Mobile, AL and Atlanta, GA (Central United Methodist for 18 years and Cascade United Methodist for six years). Mrs. Lowery worked in the movement for justice and civil rights alongside her husband; she understood that the contribution of women in the movement often went unnoticed. As an activist, she marched, boycotted, served jail time and traveled the world spreading the message of human and civil rights. Upon Rev. Dr. Lowery’s appointment as President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Mrs. Lowery founded the Women’s Organizational Movement for Equality Now (SCLC/W.O.M.E.N.) in 1979 as a result of her passion for issues impacting women and children. W.O.M.E.N became the fastest growing department in SCLC and Mrs. Lowery served as the National Convener from its inception until her death in 2013.
As an active leader in the city of Atlanta, she was one of a five-member committee appointed by former Mayor Maynard Jackson to make arrangements for clothing and burial of missing and murdered children. Mrs. Lowery is also the creator of the annual Drum Major for Justice Awards held every April in Atlanta. In 1995, she created the Bridging the Gap – Girls to Women mentoring program. She has served as a member of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Christian Council of Atlanta, and has worked with the YWCA, Church Women United, and many other organizations. Lowery has received numerous awards and recognition for her leadership and service including the YWCA Academy of Women Achievers Award, the APEX Museum’s Tribute Award to Black Women for Achievement in Civil Rights (Collections of Life and Heritage); the Rosa Parks Award; WXIA-11 Alive Community Service Award; and the Atlanta Business League’s Women of Vision – 100 Most Influential Women of Atlanta- the epitome of the virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31, her memory is both missed and honored by her children and husband, Joseph Echols Lowery.
Selected Awards & Honors
1997 Women of Stature Award 2004 City of Selma Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Day
2007 Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Day at the Capitol Lifetime Achievement Award
2009 Women’s Federation for World Peace USA National Assembly Lifetime Achievement Award
2010 Atlanta Urban league, Inc. Equal Opportunity Award
2010 Interfaith Children’s Movement Child Advocacy Award
Atlanta Tribune Magazine Hall of Fame Women of the Civil Rights Movement
APEX Museum’s Tribute Award to Black Women for Achievement in Civil Rights (Collections of Life and Heritage)
Atlanta Business League’s Women of Vision – 100 Most Influential Women of Atlanta
International Civil Rights Walk of Fame Induction, Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
Rosa Parks Award
WXIA-11Alive Community Service Award
YWCA Academy of Women Achievers Award