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Joseph Lowery, civil rights leader and MLK aide, dies at 98

Lowery was considered the dean of civil rights veterans who led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for two decades.
In this Aug. 14, 2013 photo, civil rights leader the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery speaks at an event in Atlanta announcing state lawmakers have formed an alliance to combat restrictive voting laws. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, a civil rights leader who helped the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, has died at 98.

A family statement says Lowery died Friday.

In this April 1968 photo, the Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy, center, talks with aides, the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, left, and the Rev. Andrew Young, during an Atlanta news conference. (AP Photo, File)

A charismatic and fiery preacher with oratory skills on par with King, Lowery led the SCLC for two decades. He remained an active force in social issues such as war and poverty long after his retirement.

Lowery was considered the dean of civil rights veterans and lived to celebrate a milestone that few of them thought they would ever witness - the election of an African American president. President Barack Obama awarded Lowery the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.