It’s Round Two for Charles Steele, Jr. At the urging of its Chairman Dr. Bernard LaFayette, the Southern Christian Leadership Board has voted to reappoint Steele as president, says an SCLC news release this week.
The savvy Alabama businessman and politician built SCLC’s national headquarters building during his stint as presidency from 2004 to 2009. This gift of development is sorely needed again at this point of the organization’s history, LaFayette says. “Dr. Steele has returned as President because of a very important need at this point which is fundraising and fund development. That’s a primary responsibility of the President, and he has excellent skills and contacts in that arena to help us maintain our financial stability.”
Dr. C.T. Vivian, who has served as interim president and recently received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, will now be a roving ambassador and vice president of SCLC.
“When Dr. Vivian became President we needed that kind of historical leadership and the respect that he commands, but also the integrity that he represents as a proponent of nonviolence,” adds LaFayette. “We applaud his stellar service.”
President Steele says he will return with his penchant for international travel and passion for the poor.
“SCLC is more than marching and giving great speeches,” he says in a news release. “It’s a collaborative effort with the programmatic intent to take care of those less fortunate than we are. Our mission from the start was to make sure that poor people and ‘po folks’ were being recognized.”
After trips to Germany, Russia and other foreign countries, Steele says he sees SCLC growth as a international symbol of justice and opportunity.
“SCLC is more prevalent now than ever before around the world,” he says. “People of color in America feel that we have maxed out, but when I went to Moscow and spoke to the former president Mikhail Gorbachev , the first question he asked me was, ‘Steele have we fulfilled The Dream’? I very swiftly responded, ‘Mr. President, no. We are just getting started.’ That’s when we were able to talk with Gorbachev for three hours about our goals. We agreed that we were going to work together on human rights, civil rights, the environment and economic development.”