Date of Award

Spring 8-15-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


African-American Studies

First Advisor

Akinyele Umoja, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Audrea Dunham, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jacqueline Rouse, Ph.D.



Joseph Echols Lowery, a key founding member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, led the organization for twenty years. This study explores how Lowery, who took over during an era when many considered the civil rights movement dead, reenergized the SCLC, became a leading black spokesman who challenged Congress, presidents and the Justice Department around issues of voting rights and social justice, while consistently questioning U.S. hegemonic international and domestic policies around jobs and poverty. This research further investigates how Lowery fought for the continuation of affirmative action in the midst of an oftentimes hostile environment and waged campaigns against multi-national companies that discriminated against blacks and minorities. This qualitative empowerment study examines how and why Lowery and the SCLC became the leading non-Muslim influence on the 1995 Million Man March and his role in affirming women leaders and their initiatives.