Remembering Isaac Lowe: She Literally Pushed for Change

Isaac Lowe 2

I can’t say goodbye to Ms. Isaac Lowe without sharing this story. This goes back to a cold December evening 21 years ago, with a steady if not driving rain. We had a matter before the Anderson City Council, and I went over to pick Isaac up. When I knocked on her door and she answered, it was immediately apparent that she had a very, very bad cold, and I suggested that she stay in and just let me handle it. As she brushed by me after closing the door on her way out, she said something like, “I’m goin’, let’s go.” I rushed to keep my umbrella over her as we got into the car. We drove down to Anderson City Hall, made our presentation, and the Council voted against our proposal, 4-1.

We waited in our seats until the Council moved on to their next agenda item, and then prepared to leave. There were some small stairs, and Isaac took my arm for support. We were nearing the door when we heard the mayor say, “You know, we’re not in favor of racism,” and all of a sudden, I can feel myself moving backwards toward the mayor at a rapid rate, and I hear Isaac’s voice rise up and say, not quite under her breath, “Well if you feel that way, why didn’t you vote for the proposal?” As Isaac continued to move me backward toward the City Council, I realized I knew what to do in this situation. I dropped my weight and planted my back foot, and this slowed her forward progress. As I did so, I glanced back up at the mayor. His eyes were as big as saucers, and he looked like he was going to say something, but fortunately, he didn’t. I turned back to Isaac and in a voice only she could hear said, “Isaac, we will have a chance to come back here another day, but for now, we need to walk out of here.” And with that, the storm (the one inside the Council Chambers) subsided, and we walked out.

We got into the car and talked about the meeting, but to be honest, it was a little tense on the ride home. She was still pretty hot, and I later thought that maybe this might help break her fever. But we all made it home safely, and I’m happy to say that we both lived long enough to go back to the Anderson City Council, almost ten years later to the day. This time, the Council voted 5-0 to place signs at the city limits with the words, “No Room for Racism, Hate, or Violence.”

Isaac Lowe 3

The reason I wanted to tell this story is that there are a hundred reasons not to do the right thing, the extra thing, something that might actually make a difference. I’m too tired, the weather’s not right, I just don’t feel like it – those are the kind of thoughts that stop us. And then I think about Isaac at that moment. There was every reason in the world for her not to go, yet she went, and literally pushed for change. Pushed for her elected leaders to take a principled stand, pushed for justice, pushed to make our community a better place. And my sense is that she did this a hundred times, a thousand times, 10,000 times, maybe every day of her life. I think about this every time I don’t feel like doing something, and it inspires me to make the extra effort.

I will miss her terribly, but I am so grateful to have known her. May God bless Isaac Lowe.


 Tom O'Mara, Isaac Lowe, and Tom's wife Alice Wilkinson

Tom O’Mara, Isaac Lowe, and Tom’s wife Alice Wilkinson

Tom O'Mara

Tom O’Mara is a volunteer Civil Rights Advocate for the Redding Police Department.

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