Originally created 08/12/02

Reverend urges local blacks to vote

The churches were crowded, and the Rev. Joseph Lowry hoped everyone took his message to heart.

The civil rights leader who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr. was in four Augusta churches Sunday to make a plea to the area's black community.

Representing the Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda, the Rev. Lowry, of Atlanta, asked those present to vote in the upcoming election.

"Voting is a sacred right and a moral obligation," he said.

Georgia's party primaries are Aug. 20, and voters will pick a governor, a lieutenant governor, state legislators, members of Congress and a U.S. senator in November.

The Rev. Lowry spoke at Good Hope Baptist, Macedonia Baptist, Beulah Grove Baptist and Bethel African Methodist Episcopal churches.

"We've gained a lot through the ballot box," he said, "but the task is still unfinished."

He said his Augusta visit is part of a statewide campaign by his coalition to increase the number of black voters.

"We've been to 40 cities in the past 60 days," he said in an interview. "We're trying to stress the importance of voting. We think it strengthens democracy."

The Rev. Lowry noted that more than 30,000 blacks in Richmond County are not registered to vote. He said his organization, which was formed in 1990, does not promote a candidate.

The group's focus will now shift to the Atlanta area.

"Leading up to the election, we'll be concentrating on Fulton County, DeKalb County and Clayton County," he said.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3904.


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