D.M. Therrell Educational Complex names auditorium after civil rights legend

Dr. Joseph Lowery with students at Therrell High School

ATLANTA –  Atlanta Public Schools paid tribute to the Reverend Joseph E. Lowery Wednesday morning with the dedication of the D.M. Therrell Educational Complex Auditorium.  APS dedicated the facility in honor of the civil rights legend and his heroic efforts to secure peace, justice and prosperity for all humanity. 

 The building has been named the Dr. Joseph E. Lowery Auditorium.

Lowery, a native of Huntsville, Ala., served as one of the chief organizers of the Selma, Montgomery marches in 1965 that led to passage of the Voting Rights Act.  A longtime president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Lowery created the SCLC with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, Sr.  and Fred Shuttlesworth, who died last October.  At ninety, Lowery is the oldest surviving leader of the non-violent civil rights demonstrations of the 1950s and 1960s.

 In 2009 Lowery delivered the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration.  Later that year, the nation’s first African American president awarded Lowery the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the country’s highest civilian award—to honor Lowery’s service to the nation. Lowery wore the medal to the auditorium dedication and proudly held it high for the audience to see.  Lowery said he wore it to the event so that he could experience both badges of honor together.

 Local business owner and Therrell alumnus, Antavis Pickens, Sr., provided the keynote address and students from Therrell, M.H. Jackson and Grady high schools performed during the program and the reception that followed. 

During his acceptance remarks Lowery stated that when he learned about the naming of the auditorium, he was “thankful and highly honored.” He added that the auditorium would be a place for students to sit shoulder to shoulder with each other for fellowship, enrichment and enlightenment. 

 “You will come to this auditorium and hear from people who have served their community, and who will look to you to one day serve your communities,” Lowery said.

 Before taking his seat, Lowery gave the students a friendly word of caution.

“Always be on your best behavior in the Joseph E. Lowery Auditorium,” he said.  “Never come in here and misbehave.  Because when I’m gone, I’ll be watching you.  And if you do misbehave in this auditorium, you will feel a hard nudge in your side—that’ll be me.”


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