This should be very interesting, considering the several recent discussions on black gays in the black church, and, the continuing role of anti-gay black ministers in civil rights organizations. The Rev. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the well known fundamentalist minister and anti-gay activist, is among the five candidates hoping to lead the organization founded by the civil rights icon more than five decades ago, the AP and Miami Herald report.
If she is chosen, Bernice King, who is also a minister, would be the first woman to lead the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The group met this week for its annual convention in Memphis, Tenn., where King was killed in 1968. He was the SCLC's first president, serving from 1957 until his death. His son, Martin Luther King III, was president from 1997 to 2004.
Interim President Byron Clay confirmed three of the five candidates seeking to become the group's seventh president were: King, SCLC Georgia State President Samuel Mosteller and activist Markel Hutchins, founder of the National Youth Connection. Mosteller and Hutchins are also ministers. Officials declined to say who the remaining candidates are.
The SCLC's 51st convention concludes today in Memphis. "We are going back to Memphis to try to re-capture the original spirit and mission of our fallen prince," said Byron Clay, SCLC’s interim president, tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
But some wonder if the Southern Christian Leadership Conference would be better off with fresh ideas on how to fix itself, instead of retreading old ones. Chapters in Florida have bolted from the once venerable organization to form a rival group, while the president of the Los Angeles chapter has had his job threatened over his support of gay marriage.
The AJC details the SCLC's recent appalling decision to attempt to oust the Rev. Eric Lee, president of the Los Angeles chapter, over his support of same-sex marriage and efforts to fight Prop 8. Lee says it's a civil rights issue. "Two men or two women together does not effect my relationship with my wife and children. African-Americans, more than any other people, have the moral obligation to speak out against injustice. We can’t just speak out on issues concerning black folks."
Money quote from Princeton's Melissa Harris Lacewell on the SCLC's anti-gay bias: "Simply put a national civil rights organization that takes a "neutral position" on an issue of basic civil rights does not deserve to exist." When will black civil rights organizations "have the conversation" and address the bigotry and inequality in their own neighborhoods? And what would the Dr. Martin Luther King, who said "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere", say his daughter's anti-gay views should preclude her from leading the organization he founded?
You May Have Missed ...
SCLC Leader Criticizes Anti-Gay, Black Pastors [R20]
Blackout on Proposition 8 [Advocate]
"MLK Would Favor" Gay Rights [R20]
Live Blog: Coretta Scott King Funeral [R20]
Gay-Bashing" at Bermuda Mega-Church [R20]
MLK Observances Will Include Coretta [R20]
Black Church "Use Scripture to Reject Black Gays" [R20]
NAACP Doesn't Take a Position on Gay Marriage [R20]
NAACP, Julian Bond Call for Overturn Prop 8 [R20]
NBJC First Black LGBT Group to Address NAACP [R20]
Obama to NAACP: "Gays Still Denied Their Rights" [R20]
NAACP's Benjamin Jealous in NYT [R20]
"Noah's Arc" Actor Doug Spearman, Black Ministers Urge "NO" on Prop 8 [R20]