As the nation continues to process the aftermath of the horrific shooting that took place over the weekend in Orlando, we are faced once again with redoubling our efforts to share the critical and timely message of peace and hope throughout our communities.
If recent events have reminded us of anything, it’s the continued need to support organizations such as the SCLC that foster constructive dialogue and other wholesome methods of moving past our differences and finding what we have in common that unites us all as citizens of the world.
This coming Tuesday, June 21st, members of the SCLC will gather to officially rename the international headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia in honor of current President and CEO, Dr. Charles Steele, Jr.
“I never imagined that this building would be named after me,” said a humbled Dr. Steele, who initially served as President and CEO of the SCLC from 2004 to 2009 and was reappointed to the role in 2011. “I am so pleased that the Board thought enough of my work with the SCLC and my continued vision to unanimously vote for this measure.”
SCLC’s international headquarters, located at 320 Auburn Avenue, was built in 2004 in an effort to keep the organization’s storied history of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement alive in the hearts and minds of people throughout the world. The headquarters cost $3.5 million, most of which was raised by Dr. Steele.
Established in 1957, the SCLC is a non profit, non-sectarian, interfaith, advocacy organization that is committed to nonviolent action to achieve social, economic, and political justice. The SCLC is looking to strengthen its membership and extend its outreach not only within communities of color, but those that work for quality and peace for all marginalized groups and individuals.
“In the few short years that our international headquarters building has existed, it has become a magnet for world leaders,” says Chairman of the Board, Dr. Bernard LaFayette. “It is because of this extraordinary building that we have been able to share and enhance the philosophy of Dr. King and his ideas continue to be a strong influence throughout the world.”
The SCLC Board unanimously voted during its annual April meeting to name the building in honor of Dr. Charles Steele, Jr. in recognition for his efforts in securing sufficient funds for the structure and ensuring it remained debt-free. After many years of renting, the building is now officially owned by the organization.
During his initial tenure as President and CEO, Dr. Steele helped build the headquarters and opened a number of international conflict resolution centers. After leaving the SCLC in 2009, it was overrun by expensive legal battles that left the organization financially vulnerable. Citing his impeccable record and strong fiscal responsibility, Dr. Steele was re-appointed by the Board as President and CEO in 2011.
“Dr. Steele has worked tirelessly to bring international attention to the work of this organization, strengthen its finances and build, from the ground up, a multi-million dollar home for Dr. King’s legacy organization,” says Dr. LaFayette. “It has been 10 years since our international headquarters has been erected, but now it is being anchored to the community.”
It is expected that the SCLC’s physical headquarters will help stabilize the area, especially since so many Black-owned businesses have left the neighborhood. In addition, major plans are expected for the surrounding community, including a multi-purpose use for the Dr. Charles Steele, Jr. Building.