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The Rev. Dr. Joseph L. Lowery celebrated his 88th birthday engaged in a spirited discussion on civic engagement along with Judge Penny Brown Reynolds and the senior-high students from Atlanta Public Schools. As part of the district’s ninth annual lecture series at Therrell Educational Complex in his honor, Dr. Lowery urged students to embrace every opportunity to make a difference through civic engagement.
“You are not responsible for the world you found, but you are responsible for how you leave it,” said the iconic civil rights leader, who proudly wore the Presidential Medal of Freedom he received in August from President Barack Obama. During the event, Lowery shared his feelings about the nation’s first African-American president, who had invited him to deliver the inaugural benediction earlier this year.
“Every time I meet him,” Lowery said, “I want to be smarter, more intelligent, more involved.”
Reynolds also challenged students to embrace education and make a positive difference in the world. As star of the television show “Family Court with Judge Penny,” she focuses on rebuilding families impacted by societal pressure. Reynolds shared her personal story — as a teen mother who returned to college in her late 20s — as an example for students in the audience.
“Have hope in something greater than what you see around you,” said Reynolds, the first African American to serve as chief of staff and legal counsel to a Georgia governor. “You only have one chance to have a good reputation and you need to guard it with your life.”