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While SCLC Burns, Bernice King Delays Taking on New Role

Paul Shepard | 6/3/2010, 12:14 p.m.

The house that her father built is burning. The once proud civil rights group the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is being swept away in the flames of public infighting and courtroom battles among its leadership.

Bernice King, daughter of SCLC founder Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and possibly the one person who might save the SCLC operation (if it should indeed be saved at all), was elected as president and should have taken office at the start of the year.

Instead, King sits on the sidelines of the fray and watches, and waits and negotiates and .....

You get the picture.

At exactly the time the SCLC needs a strong hand to decide which of the warring factions of SCLC will remain and help her pull the group from the abyss, King is absent in the eyes of the public.

Now I'm not privy to all that's going on in the background. It is possible that Ms. King is separating the wheat from the chaff among the remaining so-called leaders of the organization and is developing a grand plan to bring social action, not public infighting, to the top of the SCLC agenda.

If the SCLC is to survive, it will have to develop a new strategy to deal with the often difficult-to-detect brand of racial prejudice employed against black and brown people today.

It is possible that the SCLC will have to enter in to a fuller and more public partnership with Latinos, who are now sharing the brunt of overt racism in America.

I hope Bernice King is spending a lot of time considering the SCLC's relevance and where the group is headed in the coming years. If so, and if she is up to the job, the SCLC just might find its purpose.