Current Miss Kentucky Kia Hampton attended Doctor Joseph Lowery’s 90th birthday celebration Sunday, Oct. 9 in Atlanta, GA. Dressed in a stunning black dress adorned with her crown and sash Hampton made her way to honor a man whose fight for justice has made a way for her to achieve today.
Dr. Lowery’s tireless efforts as a civil rights advocate extends back to the early 1950’s in Mobile Alabama. He led the Alabama Civil Affairs Association on a movement that resulted in desegregation of buses and public establishments. He served along side his friend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as the Co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as President of the Board and Chief Executive Officer.
In 1965 Lowery was appointed by Dr. King to deliver the demands of the Selma-to-Montgomery March to Alabama Gov. George Wallace. This day has come to be known as “Bloody Sunday” as Wallace ordered marchers to be beaten. But this march also ultimately led to the enactment of the Voting Rights Act. In 1995, when Dr. Lowery led the 30th anniversary of the Re-enactment, and former Gov. Wallace personally apologized for his acts of cruelty. Dr. Lowery’s extensive work in the justice for all people has been unwavering and at 90 years old he is being celebrated for his timeless work.
In the audience Kia Hampton sat inspired as propionate figures such as Oprah Winfrey, President Obama, Maya Angelou and former Pres. Jimmy Cater honored Lowery via video presentation. In 2009 President Obama also recognized his life long achievement as he awarded Lowery the nations highest civilian honor: The Presidential Medal of Freedom. Lowery also delivered the Benediction at President Obama’s inauguration as the 44th president putting the final seal of approval on African American achievement.
Kia Hampton says “Because of the hard choices and dangerous decisions that Dr. Lowery made years and years before I was born, I am given the chance to equally compete on a national stage for Miss USA and in life. ” Also there to celebrate his achievement was American singer, songwriter and musician Stevie Wonder who serenaded the audience singing songs such as “Visions” and his popular version of Happy Birthday. “I am in awe of Dr. Lowery and the legends [Cicely Tyson, Jennifer Holliday, Rev. Al Sharpton, Soledad O’Brien] that have gathered here in his honor. I can only hope that I can begin to fulfill the kind of incomparable legacies that are here in this room. ” says Hampton. Delta Airlines dedicated a 757 plane bearing Dr. Lowery’s signature that will carry him to the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument dedication in Washington, D.C. next week.
Hampton says “I am only in my early twenties and I am immensely honored to have the opportunity to celebrate this historic time with an important icon like Dr. Joseph Lowery."
Photo courtesy of Kingsmen Media Group