The SCLC Board Chairman Dr. Bernard LaFayette and Interim President Rev. C.T. Vivian, announce the appointment of SCLC President Emeritus Dr. Charles Steele, Jr. as CEO
of the organization on Monday July 2. The announcement came from the SCLC
headquarters at 320 Auburn Ave., where they also announced plans to restore the financial stability and credibility of SCLC.
“The storm is over for SCLC,” says Dr. LaFayette. “We are rebuilding our executive team and Dr. Steele is a vital member.”
A coalition of SCLC current and former chapter presidents, members and financial supporters and SCLC longtime loyalists have reiterated their position that the organization’s Board of Directors’ continues to be in violation of the organization’s constitution and Georgia Law and as a result will seek the court’s intervention as previously planned.
According to reports, the coalition sent a letter in May 2012 to the entire SCLC National Board of Directors outlining their concerns and requesting a meeting to discuss the unlawful removal of President Isaac Farris and the continued violations of the constitution by the SCLC Board members led by Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Don Cash and Rev. Sylvia Tucker. The coalition never received a response to its request but rather faced attacks by the SCLC leadership in the media with no signs of providing any accountability or transparency.
“We love Dr. Charles Steele, Jr. and we appreciate the incredible work that he did while serving as President & CEO and we are excited about his return to the organization. The coalition will do everything within our power to make his second tenure as much of a success as his first. However, the reality is that he should have never been forced out of the organization in 2009, after members of the Board of Directors including many of the current board members, codified a board driven organization by orchestrating several unorthodox changes resulting then in the newly constituted 2007 constitution and bylaws. Even now it is our understanding that the criteria for Chapter ratification has been changed to further exclude chapters – without proper notification to the chapters. When an organization has seven presidents in twelve years it becomes obvious the problem is not the President, the problem is the Board of Directors.
“The coalition supported the installation of Elder Bernice King as the organization’s first female President, but she declined to assume the role when the Board of Directors led by Dr. Bernard Lafayette and Rev. Sylvia Tucker refused to support amendments to the 2007 Constitution and Bylaws that would limit the Board of Directors involvement in the day‐to‐day operations of the organization.
“This current Board of Directors operates outside of the boundaries of the constitution and bylaws and thumbs their noses at anyone who challenges their actions on behalf of the people which the SCLC was ordained to serve. In the past ninety days we have seen Dr. Lafayette and the Board of Directors violate the SCLC Constitution by terminating President Isacc Farris without cause, appointing an Interim President without board approval, changing the constitutional date of the annual convention without providing notice to the membership, and now circumventing the process of selecting a CEO and President before the annual convention. This board wants to function with unmitigated power but refuses to answer questions about the fiscal viability of an organization which it has controlled for two years. This is exactly why the Constitution provides that Board members such as Bernard Lafayette and Sylvia Tucker who have served on the board more than 20 years are to have 3 year terms. Considering previous behaviors, patterns and practice we believe that It’s just a matter of time before they reject again the leadership of Dr. Steele so the only recourse is to have the court intervene to reconstitute the Board of Directors, order a forensic audit, examine all contractual obligations currently in existence, restructure the operations of the organization and revise the bylaws,” continued Baynes.
According to Maynard Eaton, publicist of SCLC, “We put together the announcement of a Dream Team where Dr. Steele signed a promissory note to commit to raise a sum of money to assure that SCLC becomes a solvent organization.” Eaton added, Steele is also committed “to continuously sustaining the organization’s financially stability for future generations.”