Bernice King Breaks Silence, Asks SCLC to End Rift

Errin Haines, Google News, August 4, 2010

After nearly 10 months of silence, the Rev. Bernice King urged the Southern Christian Leadership Conference on Tuesday to end the bitter infighting that has split the group she was elected to lead.

King said at a news conference she still plans to lead the civil rights group but declined to say when she would take the post. She has indicated she would wait out the bickering and legal wrangling.

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Shortly after her election in October by a unified SCLC, the leadership of the group co-founded by her father, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., split into two factions that have since met and made decisions separately. The SCLC is awaiting a decision from a judge as to which faction controls the group.

As the factions prepare to host dueling conventions in the next week, King says she will lead a prayer vigil for the SCLC on Friday at Ebenezer Baptist Church–where her father preached from 1960 until his death in 1968 and across the street from where her parents are buried.

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On Tuesday, King–who is also a lawyer–said she had originally intended to take office in April but waited because of the ongoing court battle. Meanwhile, King said she has been meeting with her transition team and preparing for her eventual role as head of SCLC.

King’s has opted to stay out of the fray in the wake of investigations into charges of financial mismanagement by the group’s ousted chairman and treasurer. Those allegations are at the heart of the SCLC split.

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The Rev. Bernice King has implored the fractured membership of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to come together after months of bitter infighting that has pushed the famed civil rights organization to the brink of extinction.

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