MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Southern Christian Leadership Conference played a major role in Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign and the fight for equality. Some of what they fought for is coming to fruition right now in Memphis.
Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy was the president of the organization in 1968.
The Poor People’s Campaign of that same year was meant to “dramatize the plight of America’s poor of all races” and push for a better life.
Since its inception in 1957, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has been about getting members of the clergy involved in political activism.
King, a Baptist preacher, was the SCLC’s first president.
Now, Dr. Charles Steele Jr. serves as president. Steele says the organization is just as relevant as it was during the days of Dr. King.
“I don’t care what kind of jobs you have, what your status is, you got there because of SCLC. All major legislation and all major acts that was passed, with the exception of the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education, was done by SCLC,” Steele said.
Before Steele, Rev. Dwight Montgomery served as SCLC president.
Montgomery passed away late last year, but he previously said that King’s legacy lives on.
“I think he would be proud,” Montgomery said. “We have an awesome national president who has a deep commitment to fighting against poverty.”