By Brett Gillin
Dr. Joseph Lowery is an undisputed icon of the civil rights movement in the United States, and has held that status since the mid-1950s. During his career, Dr. Lowery has been no stranger to making broad and inflammatory statements in order to call attention to his cause, and his most recent comments could certainly be classified as such.
CBS46 out of Atlanta, Georgia, interviewed Dr. Lowery earlier this week, looking to get his thoughts and opinions on race relations in the United States and about the rising tensions around the nation regarding race and police shootings. As could be expected from Dr. Lowery, he did not hold back or bite his tongue.
Dr. Lowery focused on his opinions that police officers need to realize that the black men they’re policing are humans first and foremost. “We have to look at the whole issue of training police officers, recruiting police officers and seeing that they see black men as human beings and not as some creatures of evil that stalk the earth,” Lowery told reporters.
He continued later, more specifically pointing out what he believes are the thoughts of police officers. “Police officers look upon black men as creatures of evil and threats to their safety.”
Dr. Lowery is no stranger to inflammatory remarks regarding race. Many remember Dr. Lowery as the controversial Reverend who gave the benediction during President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration. He sparked a major controversy at that time when he was quoted as saying that all white people are going to hell, and questioning what type of black person wouldn’t vote for another black person.
Earlier in Dr. Lowery’s activist career, he became well known for leading the Montgomery bus boycott after the Rosa Parks incident, cofounding the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and leading the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965.
While Dr. Lowery certainly made controversial comments about police officers, he was also critical to the very group he helped found. When Rev. Samuel Mosteller, currently active in the SCLC encouraged his followers to “advocate their 2nd Amendment rights” in response to the recent police shootings, Dr. Lowery was quick to point out the lunacy in that statement, and his continued support for nonviolent measures of resistance for change.
“It’s a challenge we’ve not met in finding a way to bring the races to a new level of respect and understanding, but we’ve got to do it. We can’t go on like we are. It’s not getting any better,” Dr. Lowery said.