FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 17, 2018
SCLC President & CEO Dr. Charles Steele, Jr. to Be Inducted into The International Civil Rights Walk of Fame on Thursday
Honor Comes as The SCLC Prepares for Major Commemoratory Events in 2018: 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Assassination and The Poor People’s Campaign
ATLANTA – In the Soviet Union, Germany, France, Great Britain, Africa, Israel, Brazil and many other foreign nations, Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., the president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), is revered as a global leader, someone who is carrying on the legacy of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the co-founder and first president of one of the world’s most renowned civil rights organizations.
On Thursday, January 18, 2018, the accolade will be presented closer to home when Dr. Steele is inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame. The ceremony, hosted by the Trumpet Awards Foundation Inc., will be held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, 265 Peachtree St., at 8:30am. ET.
“We are all delighted to be beneficiaries of your great work and applaud your valuable contributions to the world,” said Xernona Clayton, president and CEO of the Trumpet Awards and former King aide in presenting Dr. Steele with the distinctive honor. “Your great work has been impressive, and we want to include you in the group of game changers. You will be joined by other humanitarians such as Ambassador Andrew Young, Lena Horne, Father Hesburgh, Sidney Poitier and many more who have previously been inducted. Your footprints will be permanently imbedded in the sidewalk surrounding the National Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum for generations to visit and honor your good works.”
For Dr. Steele, the recognition comes during a pivotal moment in American history, just three days after the nation commemorates what would have been Dr. King’s 89th birthday and less than three months before the nation observes the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Memphis on April 4, 1968.
A few days before Dr. King’s death, he announced the Poor People’s Campaign to address poverty in America, but he was killed on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel before that campaign was launch. Despite the tragic turn of events, top aides proceeded with the “war on poverty” several weeks later. Dr. Steele will revisit that campaign later this year. -more-
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“I feel good that Ms. Clayton and her induction committee are recognizing the work I have done around the world over the past 40 years, including 10 years as president and CEO of the SCLC,” Dr. Steele said. “When I received her call, I felt good and not just for me, but for my wife, children, staff and supporters who have supported me over those four decades. It’s an honor to be inducted and recognized here at home. It is very significant that she is recognizing me at this important point and time.”
Dr. Steele’s staunchest supporters see this recognition as a hallmark moment for his growing influence in Atlanta.
“I am just proud of him,” said SCLC’s First Lady Cathelean Annette Steele. “I am extremely proud of this moment because he has worked so hard for so long. He is finally getting recognized in Atlanta, and this is an international honor.”
Rev. Schmitt Moore, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where Dr. Steele was a longtime state senator and funeral home director before taking the leadership role at the SCLC, said President Steele is well worthy of the honor.
“He has really invested his life into the movement, and I feel that the cost of his innate dissatisfaction with the status quo (means) there is no way for him to be comfortable accept he be at work trying to bring about a positive change,” Rev. Moore said. “He has what I believe is a divine dissatisfaction with the status quo and he cannot help himself. He has to be engaged continuously in the movement, and the recognition is a recognition he is well deserving of.”
Rev. Moore added, “There are so few leaders like Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., and those that we still have we really need to salute, honor and highlight them, not only for their recognition, but the nation needs to see we still appreciate men and women who stay on the battlefield for the cause. It is still a work that has to be done. The battle is not over yet, and so we have to continue to recognize those who are still on the battle field.”
To have his footprints permanently embedded in the sidewalk surrounding the National Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum, Ms. Clayton requested that Dr. Steele send a pair of shoes. Initially, Dr. Steele planned to send a pair of shoes that he has worn over the years, heels showing evidence of the many miles he has marched and protested. But that plan was soon vetoed by First Lady Steele.
“I sent a good pair to them,” Dr. Steele said jokingly. # # #
ABOUT THE SCLC: Established in 1957, the SCLC, whose first president was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is a now an international 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. For additional information about the SCLC, visit www.nationalsclc.org.To arrange an interview with Dr. Steele, contact Jerry Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org, (312)–285-5166, or Maynard Eaton, SCLC’s National Communications Director, (404) 254-8322,email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.