The first phase of a new four-lane roadway into downtown Huntsville honoring civil rights icon Dr. Joseph E. Lowery is open after a year of construction.
Lowery grew up on Church Street across from where the WHNT-TV Channel 19 studio sits today. He graduated from segregated William Hooper Councill High School in Huntsville and later co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lowery, who now lives in Atlanta, said the roadway named in his honor belongs to the men and women who “went through the caldron of political conflict, political challenge to make this possible.”
“Don’t you sit there and think it was easy,” he said. “There were challenges and objections. There were naysayers and mean-doers who wanted to object and didn’t think the city of Huntsville would honor one of its dark-skinned sons, but God moves in mysterious ways.”
Shane Davis, Huntsville’s director of urban development, said Phase II of the $8 million Dr. Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard project is under construction with a target completion date of December. A new greenway extension is also being developed along Fagan Creek.
Crews began enclosing the Fagan Creek channel into a box-culvert earlier this summer. Davis said both the culvert and greenway will be finished by late spring or early summer of 2017 when a new multi-use path to connect Lowery Boulevard to Monroe Street is ready to unveil.
The city recently created a new east-west connector via Pelham Avenue and Davis Circle to provide more connectivity to the Monroe Street roundabout near the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library.
Huntsville City Council President Will Culver said the commemoration of Dr. Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard was an important day for the city.
“It’s incredible for us because we’re blessed to be able to do this for such a special, impeccable man,” he said.
A man called the “Dean of the Civil Rights Movement” was honored with a boulevard named after him in his hometown of Huntsville.
Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, 94, was honored by family, friends and city leaders at a ribbon-cutting for the boulevard on Wednesday. City officials said the four-lane boulevard named after him was made to offer a new entrance into the heart of downtown.
“May this be the beginning of a new era for Huntsville,” Lowery said.
“The Bible says things about a man is never recognized in his own hometown,” said his oldest daughter, Yvonne Lowery-Kennedy. “But Huntsville has made that a realistic thing. Today he was recognized in his own hometown. So I’m proud of that, as a daughter, I’m extremely proud.
She said her father was “as good of a father as he was a civil leader.”
Lowery was instrumental in the fight against social injustice during the Civil Rights Movement. He also played a key role in the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. He also helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr.
NOTE: Due to the large media presence, my view of Dr. Lowery was obstructed and as a result still photos were inserted during his speech.