The Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference
played a substantial role in the U.S. civil rights movement and the work
of Martin Luther King Jr., who was its first president. But all is not
well at the SCLC this week, where internal strife has developed into a
power struggle over the group's leadership. Here's what's happening.
Happened WBS TV reports, "A new round began
Monday night in the power struggle over who is in charge of the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference. The Rev. Markel Hutchins padlocked the
doors of the SCLC Monday night and then left. ... Under the cover of
darkness, the parking lot and offices of the SCLC were chained and
- 'Feud Between Rival Factions' The Atlanta
Journal-Constitution's Rhonda Cook calls this a "feud
between rival factions of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference."
On one side is The Rev. Markel Hutchins, who "has insisted for several
months that he is a board member for the decades-old civil rights group,
even though a judge has said the vote that put him on the board was
void." On the other side are the supporters of Martin Luther King's
descendants. "Hutchins ran for SCLC president last year but lost to
Bernice King, the youngest child of SCLC co-founder the Rev. Martin
Luther King Jr."
- The Back-Story The A.P.'s Errin Haines recounts, "Last
fall, federal and local authorities launched an investigation into
allegations of financial mismanagement of at least $569,000 by the SCLC
chairman and treasurer, who deny the allegations and continue to
challenge their dismissal by some board members. Chairman Raleigh
Trammell and Treasurer Spiver Gordon have not been criminally charged,
but the SCLC has spent the past several months in court, wrangling over
control of the organization. Last month, two factions both claiming to
be the SCLC's board of directors met hundreds of miles apart and each
claimed to make decisions in an attempt to save the group from its legal
woes and bitter infighting."
has no right to be on SCLC property. His conduct of vandalizing and
damaging SCLC property proves that Hutchins will do anything to try to
control the SCLC. ... I am troubled by this conduct. It is the act of
[a] reckless individual. Markel Hutchins has stated that he would take
over SCLC. He has stated that he would be president, and like a dictator
or bully in a foreign land, who takes power by violence, Hutchins
entered the headquarters after knocking in the back door, had the doors
to the headquarters welded shut and chained.
Hutchins has never
been a member of the board of directors or a national officer of the
SCLC.Hutchins has never been elected as CEO or interim president. This
conduct is criminal and deplorable. It is like a hate crime; it makes my
The SCLC headquarters contains valuable articles
which depict the civil rights movement. Hutchins' acts have breached
security and placed those items in jeopardy. Hutchins' actions do
violence to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Enough is enough;
it is time that we stop Markel Hutchins and the dictators whom he
serves. They have no respect for democracy or the judicial process
- The SCLC's Dark Days When the conflict began in March, L.A.
Times' Richard Fausset explored "the plight of the modern-day
SCLC." He found that few young people even knew what the group was, and
that, for "decades" now, "the SCLC has largely been defined by internal
bickering and financial
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