Civil rights icon Lowery celebrates 90th birthday

By ERRIN HAINES | October 9, 2011 | 1:55 PM EDT

ATLANTA (AP) — The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery is being saluted in Atlanta for his legacy as a civil rights icon.

Lowery turned 90 years old on Friday and is being honored on Sunday night. The event also is a fundraiser for his Institute for Justice and Human Rights.

The lieutenant of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has a portrait in his home that bears the words, "I was kept alive to be a witness."

Indeed, Lowery has outlived King and many other civil rights-era contemporaries. He has witnessed the fall of segregation and the nation's first black president, and he has continued to fight for equality and social justice.