Steele resigns as president of SCLC

Published 2:57 pm Sunday, February 1, 2009

The president of the civil rights group that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. helped found has resigned.

Charles Steele Jr., 62, told The Associated Press on Sunday that he will remain at the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference as a consultant in global “conflict reconciliation.”

But he said the “time is right to bring on new leadership on a day-to-day basis.”

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SCLC vice president Byron Clay of Kenner, La., will be interim president until a permanent successor is found, Steele said.

“I’m working as hard as ever for SCLC in this new capacity in terms of my being a consultant,” Steele said.

The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native became SCLC president in 2004, inheriting a group that was near bankruptcy. He led it to solid financial footing, opened conflict resolution centers overseas and helped build a new headquarters.

The SCLC was co-founded in 1957 by King and other civil rights leaders to advance racial equality.