SCLC Name Building After Steele
ATLANTA, GEORGIA, CASCADE PRESS (CP) This week the Southern Christian Leadership Conference named it’s headquarters, the Charles Steele, Jr. International Headquarters Building. The building is located at 320 Auburn Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia. It is in the heart of the old “Sweet Auburn” financial district.
The new name of the building honors the dedication that Steele has given to SCLC. He is serving his second tour of duty. The civil rights organization was founded by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders in 1957.
The new international headquarters of the SCLC is about thirty yards from the site of the historic office where Dr. King conducted among others, the Birmingham Movement and the Selma to Montgomery March.
Steele became President of SCLC in 2004. The office looked much like it did when King led the group from 1957-1968.
He realized that SCLC did not own the building that it called home. The group rented this space from a local Masonic organization. This reality check led him to organize a capital campaign. He envisioned a permanent home for SCLC.
Additionally, the name reflects Steele’s mission to expand the work of SCLC to the global community. He has been on this mission since 2005. It began after a conversation he had with Dr. Bernard LaFayette, the organization’s chairman. They were on a trip to Israel.
Dr. LaFayette told him about a conversation he had with Dr. King”five hours before King was assassinated.” In this conversation with King, LaFayette was instructed to prepare a program that would bring people from across the globe into the orbit of the civil rights movement for justice and equality.
This revelation gave clarity to a vision Steele had before he became President of SCLC. He envisioned God telling him to take the Kingian Theory of non-violent direct action over the world; to engage other cultures to benefit from the struggle for civil rights in America.
“From that day, I knew that my job was to internationalize the civil rights movement,” Steele said.
By 2009, Steele had raised $3.5 million and constructed the new headquarters for SCLC. When the building was dedicated, it opened its doors free and clear of any debt. That year he left his post as president and formed an international consulting company.
In 2014, SCLC was in search of a leader to give it new direction and stability. The board was able to pull Steele from his consulting business to lead the organization again.
In a magazine interview that year, Steele said that he saw SCLC “as an international brand – an international symbol of justice and opportunity.”
Since his return as president, Steele has traveled to Germany, Russia and Israel to discuss peaceful means to resolve contentious political disputes.
In August, Steele plans to release a book titled, “Easier to Obtain than to Maintain: The Globalization of Civil Rights” (Cascade Publishing House, 2016). In his book Steele explains that for American Blacks to maintain the rights they obtained through the civil rights movement, they must expand their movement to the global community.
Steele has proven to be a “Drum Major” for spreading economic prosperity and justice around the world.