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Reverend Joseph E. Lowery will give the benediction speech at Barack Obama’s inauguration in January. Lowery was the pastor of the Warren Street United Methodist Church, in Mobile, Alabama from 1952 until 1961, the apex of the Civil Rights Movement.

Along with Martin Luther King, Lowery helped organize the Alabama Bus Boycott after Rosa Parks was arrested and also formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which he headed from 1977 to 1997. Lowery also led the famous Selma to Montgomery march in 1965 and was very active in the Free South Africa Movement.

At Coretta Scott King’s funeral, which was attended by George Bush and three other former presidents, Lowery openly criticized American foreign and domestic policy, saying, “We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. 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!”

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