Bernice King Delays Taking SCLC Post

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Bernice King

ATLANTA — The Rev. Bernice King is waiting out the infighting at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and will not take the helm of her father’s civil rights group as planned next month.

When asked Tuesday by The Associated Press about her plans, King deferred to her assistant who said King would not be installed as president at a convention next month. When asked if this was true, King confirmed with a nod but declined to say anything further.

King’s election as president of the SCLC in October was announced with much fanfare, but she has remained silent and out of the spotlight in the wake of investigations into allegations of financial mismanagement that have led to bitter infighting and legal wrangling.

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SCLC board member Bernard LaFayette said King will address chapter leaders during one of two conventions but will not assume the presidency.

“She prefers not to be installed until this court action is over,” LaFayette said. “We are working with her in terms of the transition at this time. We wouldn’t try to get her involved in the middle of this battle. We have to get this cleaned up. We have to make sure it’s on solid footing so she can focus on what she wants to do next.”

The Rev. Markel Hutchins, who says he is the interim president of SCLC, said he did not want to speak on the issue.

“Her decisions about her leadership and her career are hers,” Hutchins said. “In my opinion, the SCLC is much larger than any one person. Leadership rises in times of crisis. As long as SCLC calls, I, for one, will answer.”

Late last year, the SCLC’s leadership split into two factions that have continued to meet and make decisions separately. They are also planning separate conventions next month in Atlanta, where the SCLC is headquartered.

Both sides have asked a judge to rule on who is in control of the organization co-founded by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

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