Jan 21, 2011

 
 
 

Fifteen months after her election, Bernice King, the youngest child of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has declined the position of president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

She said in a written statement Friday that her decision came "after numerous attempts to connect with the official board leaders on how to move forward under my leadership, unfortunately, our visions did not align."

The board, meeting in Atlanta at the time King released her statement Friday morning, was not aware of her plans, according to one member, Art Rocker.

King initially delayed taking office because of turmoil of competing factions, both claiming to be the official board. One group tried to remove another from positions of power because then-Chairman Raleigh Trammell and then-Treasurer Spiver Gordon were suspected of mishandling $569,000 of SCLC funds, first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The FBI and the Fulton County District Attorney's Office opened investigations into the matter, and it is still pending. A grand jury in Ohio has indicted Trammell in connection with his spending of that chapter's money.

A Fulton County judge ruled last summer that Trammell and his supporters were not the official board. Even then, King did not assume the paid position of SCLC president.

King, a minister, was the first woman elected SCLC president, a position once held by her father, co-founder of the organization, and her brother, Martin Luther King III.

"After praying mightily and seeking wise counsel, I have decided not to assume the presidency of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference," she said in her statement. "As a steward of the King legacy, I must shift my focus to further advancing its growth and perpetuation overall. Specifically, I will be devoting my energy towards developing my mother's legacy, Mrs. Coretta Scott King; preparing to work with The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference alongside Reverend Samuel Rodriguez; and laying the groundwork to launch a ministry initiative. I will continue to pray for SCLC's growth and resurrection and wish the organization great success in its mission."

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