Is The Rev. Eric Lee is the Next National President?
National Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) officials announced the resignation of their president Charles Steele Jr. this week and immediately afterwards a ground swell of rumors focused on The Rev. Eric Lee of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter as his replacement.
Citing his desire to make "a career change decision." Steele, 62, said, "the time is right to bring on new leadership."
However, he announced, he would still be a consultant to the civil rights organization co founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Steele held the position since 2004, a time when SCLC was headed for bankruptcy, it was reported. He was able to turn things around financially and he also oversaw the building of conflict resolution centers overseas and a new site for national headquarters.
SCLC Vice President Byron Clay will serve as president until a replacement for Steele is found, officials said.
Rev. Eric P. Lee is President/CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles and Chairman/President of the California Christian Leadership Conference, the parent organization for seven the California SCLC Chapters.
Lee has been instrumental in increasing membership and managing the largest financial budget of any chapter outside of the national headquarters.
"There is no other person that I can think of to lead the national SCLC into the new millennium than Eric Lee," stated Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks.
A Diversity Task Force member, Lee has been working to reintegrate African-Americans into the hotel and restaurant industries in California. He's a founding member of the Alliance for Equal Opportunity in Education, a collaboration of organizations in Los Angeles leading the fight against UCLA's admission policies for Black students. I addition, he is a co-founder of the Knowledge Transfer Summit, an African-American Leadership Forum.
Lee has a B.S. in Political Economies of Industrial Societies from UC Berkeley and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Azusa Pacific University. He is an affiliate member of the Black Business Association, Recycling Black Dollars, 100 Black Men of Los Angeles, and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
"At this time my primary focus is on the chapter that I have been selected to lead, but my commitment for the SCLC would not prevent me from doing whatever I'm asked of on any level," Lee said.
Treasure of the Los Angeles SCLC Board Danny J. Bakewell Jr. suggested that, "Eric Lee is certainly qualified because the Los Angeles chapter is as large as the national chapter and he has done a magnificent job in that post."
SCLC is a now a nation wide organization made up of chapters and affiliates with programs that affect the lives of all Americans: north, south, east and west. Its sphere of influence and interests has become international in scope because the human rights movement transcends national boundaries.
Past National Presidents have included, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: 1957 to 1968
Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy: 1968 to 1977, Rev. Joseph E. Lowery: 1977 to 1997
Martin L. King, III: 1997 to 2004, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth: February 2004 to November 2004 and Steele, Jr. Will Lee be next?
Reverend Lee is one of Los Angeles' most vocal and visible civil and human rights activists. From addressing the right of African-American security guards to organize into unions to addressing homophobia, Lee has already leading the SCLC into the 21st Century.