In June 2018, the City of Huntsville opened a new gateway into downtown Huntsville from Governor’s Drive to Williams Avenue. This 4 lane road is Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard. It is named for civil rights activist and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Joseph Echols Lowery. Dr. Lowery was born on October 6, 1921 on Church Street in Huntsville, Alabama to Leroy and Dora Lowery. He graduated from William Hooper Councill High School. He holds a doctorate of divinity from the Chicago Eucmenical Institute. Among his many honors, Dr. Lowery was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009.
Dr. Sonnie W. Hereford III told a story about Dr. Lowery when Lowery visited Huntsville 30 years ago to honor Dr. Hereford. Dr. Lowery said he flew from Atlanta to Los Angeles to have lunch with the mayor of Los Angeles and dinner with the governor of California. He said that his head really swelled when he thought about this boy from Madison County, Alabama being so privileged. On his flight home, he realized that he did not have enough cash to retrieve his car from the parking lot. As he was talking to the lot attendant about his problem, she said, “Oh, I know who you are!” His head swelled a bit more. “You work here on the third shift.”