Watching yesterday's funeral of Coretta Scott King, it is easy to dismiss the "euologies" by the Reverend Joseph Lowery and Jimmy Carter as the rantings of angry, bitter old men, desperate for one more moment in the limelight--and an opportunity to bash a political opponent.
Carter's sour tone is understandable. Despite decades of careful efforts to repair his image, Carter is still considered one of the worst Presidents in American history, with a legacy of failure both at home and abroad. Lowery, who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with Martin Luther King (and later assumed control of the organization after Dr. King's assassination) had a legacy of failure as leader of that organization. From the New Georgia Encyclopedia:
Although Lowery is credited with helping the organization regain some financial strength, numerous factors (competing civil rights organizations, the disenchantment of youth and black militants impatient with its methods, and on the positive side, achievement of its original goals) contributed to its less visible profile in today's human justice movement. In addition, ongoing trouble within the SCLC, including declining membership, financial difficulties, and political infighting, have weakened the organization."
Lowery retired as SCLC President in 1997, but remains on the organization's board of directors. In 2004, he was sued by the SCLC for entering into an office lease deal with an organization controlled by his wife, with the approval of the SCLC. The suit was eventually settled out of court.
But I'll leave the last word on Carter, Lowery and their appalling behavior, to The Talkmaster, who has known both men for more than 30 years.