The 87-year-old is considered the dean of the civil rights movement, helping lead the Montgomery bus boycotts in the 1950s and delivering a list of demands to Alabama Gov. George Wallace during the bloody Selma-Montgomery March in 1965.
Lowery opened his benediction with the first words of the Negro National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing:
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears...
Lowery implored God to help Americans make "choices on the side of love, not hate, on the side of inclusion not exclusion, tolerance not intolerance."
He asked that Americans cling to the spirit of fellowship embodied at the inauguration. Lowery' ended his benediction with a rhyme familiar to black churchgoers:
We ask you to help us work for that day
When black will not be asked to get in back,
When brown can stick around,
When yellow will be mellow,
When the red man can get ahead, man,
And when white will embrace what is right.
That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.
The smiling crowd thundered in unison, "Amen!"
Tags: Lowery, Inauguration Benediction, Media by Sistrunk