The movement for social justice and equality continue. As the SCLC moves forward into the year 2021, we are also launching our SCL Global Policy Initiative.
This 501c(3) allows us to continue our domestic Poor Peoples Campaign while also beginning to address inequities across the globe. We have seen, now more than ever, that issues around poverty in the US are effected by the entire global market.
We are excited about this new effort and appreciate the feedback and energy many of you have expressed. Please click here to make your tax deductible contribution to this effort. Note, that contributions that come from the United States will be directed toward the SCLC Poor People’s Campaign.
In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gathered together his staff and planned a poor people’s campaign to take place the next year. The purpose was to demand from the government: jobs, unemployment insurance, a fair minimum wage, and education for poor adults and children designed to improve their living conditions.
Under the leadership of Dr. Charles Steele, Jr. the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) recognizes that the same problems that existed for poor people decades ago still exist today. Therefore, since 2014, SCLC has engaged in the Poor People’s Campaign. Our comprehensive plan is as follows:
These activities, along with our annual commemoration of the Selma to Montgomery March and national convention are the backbone of our advocacy on behalf of the social, economic and political rights of all Americans, particularly the poor.
The SCLC Poverty tour has a simple mission. Spotlight the issues surrounding the poor and disenfranchised. National President/CEO Dr. Charles Steele, Jr. will travel to six major metropolitan sites and four rural areas. In each stop, he will meet with politicians, business leaders and the faith community to highlight the concerns of the poor.
There has been discussion about the middle class in America, but we seem to be afraid to talk about people who are actually poor. It’s not a dirty word and they exist. Many of us are poor and just trying to pass as middle class!
— Dr. Steele addressing chapters in a meeting earlier this year
In each city, the SCLC will host a roundtable discussion led by Dr. Steele. Participants will also be asked to speak about how they lend their expertise to specifically help the poor and disenfranchised. These roundtables aim to bring into focus common underlying factors of poverty: lack of wages, job opportunities, education or apprentice training, and systemic disenfranchisement.
The tour requires a core team of five people. Dr. Steele who leads the delegation, and a point person for faith leaders, business leaders and politicians. The team also has an event coordinator to secure venues, speakers, and other discussion logistics.
For this coming year, the SCLC Martin Luther King, Jr. Poor People’s Campaign will host at least five of these events.
Justice for Girls
Justice for Girls is an educational awareness and prevention program designed to promote self-worth among young disadvantaged girls. The age of the girls we work with ranges from eight to eighteen.
Purpose: To provide stability and encourage self-worth through workshops and outings, including hiking trips, historical tours across Alabama and Georgia, retreats, college tours, and travel to the SCLC national convention. Our belief is that exposure to the world outside of what they know will enable them to dream beyond their expectations. We use examples of successful people like Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Steve Harvey and many more to inspire and build confidence.
The months of March, April and May were to be dedicated to exposing our girls to the world around them. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has derailed our plans. I would like to share a glimpse of what our girls experience each year.
Once a month we have an opportunity to visit the school partnering with our initiative. We have the pleasure of working with a group of girls that are excited and willing to learn. Our classroom objectives are as follows:
We create our classroom environment around this quote from William James. “The greatest discovery in our generation is that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
During the last three months of school we focus on activities outside of the classroom.
The retreat is always a favorite because of our presenters and trainers. The self-defense training and the spiritual enlightenment dancing always make our girls joyful and gives them a sense of power. The retreat provides guidance through activities some of which involves self-reflections. The girls experience both happiness and sadness as they laugh and cry during the course of the activities.
The weekend empowerment retreats will take small groups out of the urban settings that they are most accustomed to seeing. This allows them to focus on skills such as preparation and adjustment. Moving them out of their normal environment often provides a positive cultural shock for them. While there, we will have speakers and sessions around self-esteem, life skills, and goal setting.
The College Tour
We choose our college tours according to the state we as a group decide to visit. The Alabama tour was quite successful. We visited six colleges in five different cities within two days. A couple of girls were granted scholarships after the visits. Though this year’s tour is scheduled to focus on Georgia, traditionally our tours introduce students to schools in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia, emphasizing historically black colleges and universities. Even the bus rides will offer educational moments as we will discuss forward-thinking and service-oriented life skills such as volunteering and mentoring in their communities. This tour enables these ladies to not only discuss their future but, furthermore, to see the possibilities of their potential.
The Civil Rights Tour
During the past years we have visited the King Center, the Civil Rights Museum, the APEX Museum, and the SCLC Headquarters. In 2020 we were planning to visit the Equal Justice Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. I believe that visiting this museum will create a desire in our girls to value our history.
Hiking and Ruby Falls
Through the years we have visited Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, Tennessee and hiked the trails in Helen, Georgia. “Ruby Falls is the deepest underground waterfall open to the public.” Helen, Georgia is also known for its vineyards and Bavarian-style buildings.
The Princess Tea
At the end of each school year it is the pleasure of my Justice for Girls team to show our thanks to the girls that participated in our program. Therefore, we have a Princess Tea. We all dress like proper ladies, learn the history of the afternoon tea, enjoy poetry and singing, we listen to a wonder speaker and lastly, we enjoy our tea. However, this year a decision was made to crown the girl meeting all of our requirements as Ms. Justice for Girls.
We are looking forward to a wonderful 2021 and we are asking all of our chapters to join with us. We will coordinate with the SCLC chapter networks and associated groups such as churches, civic organizations, schools, etc., to bring awareness to the sexual exploitation of our children. Our programs are unique in their focus on prevention rather than response. We aim to be proactive in preventing the micro individual decisions and community apathy that prime conditions, making it easy for our girls to get trapped in sex trafficking.
Mrs. Cathelean Steele, Justice For Girls Founder and Director, has instilled in the entire footprint of the program that when we improve someone’s life, we have also improved our own lives.
The Justice for Girls Initiative requires a full-time director and coordinator as well as a part-time staff assistant.
Community Justice Teams
SCLC is using our historic and current brand to increase awareness about the work and mission of developing reforms around criminal justice, community policing, and sentencing. These issues have long plagued communities of color, disproportionately, and SCLC has a cautious optimism toward recent interests in addressing these long-time plagues on our community.
Working with our network of chapters as well as grassroots groups such as Gideon’s Promise the SCLC has convened national, regional and local groups into a mutual network. By operating at three levels, the SCLC enhances the multiple efforts to restore equity and justice within the criminal justice system, especially as it relates to the plight of the poor and disenfranchised.
We plan to convene Community Injustice Forums across the country. These forums will bring together SCLC and vested partners in the criminal justice system to discuss issues facing their clients and communities. Ultimately, the Forums will facilitate the imagination and eventual creation of novel partnerships with community agencies .
These forums provide context and contacts for further discussion and facilitated architecture of the creation of an SCLC Community Justice Team for each locality.
Out the Box Economics
Launched in response to the wealth and job crisis facing the poor in our country, Out the Box is an initiative of the SCLC–Martin Luther King, Jr. Poor People’s Campaign.
The program will consist of Dr. Steele and members of his Executive staff working directly with local business and elected officials to identify and execute innovative strategies that promote wage and job growth. It is intentionally designed to find non-traditional and overlooked sources of economic development, industries and community partners. This program will initially target communities, in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida and will be coordinated through a series of advisors and local leaders to ensure the initiative can be tailored to the relevant needs of the community.
Cookie cutter solutions are not working. We must work local and think global to meet the needs of the poor. There is nothing much important to social justice and equality than getting rid of poverty! I realize that to eradicate poverty often requires innovative and unique approaches to generating wealth. I will explore any and all options that will help the poor and disenfranchised be able to address systemic economic oppression that coexist and facilitates much of the discrimination we have been nonviolently protesting for decades.
Kingian Nonviolence Training
The SCLC Kingian Nonviolence Initiative is a four-phase process that shares the philosophy and strategies of Dr. King’s movement with communities that have not previously had a purpose-driven introduction to his Nonviolent conflict resolution strategies.
Phase I: Community Town Hall
SCLC introduces the Nonviolent conflict resolution strategy to 10-30 potential community partners. Organizations are encouraged to bring a contingent of at least three levels within their constituency. Upper level management, entry-level and a recipient of their service and/or volunteer. This strategy derives from the core belief that the decision to embrace a philosophy of nonviolence cannot be either a bottom-up or top-down decision. Rather, it must come from within an entire organization.
The Nonviolent Community Town Hall introduces these groups to SCLC leadership as well as thought leaders and implementation mavericks of the Kingian Nonviolence Training. The Town Hall also covers best practices for introducing the teachings to various communities across the country as well as how to ensure local community representation at the town hall.
Phase II: Level One Training
Of the 10-30 organizations represented, SCLC selects no more than a total of 30 individual participants of whom no more than three people may represent any individual organization. This group will go through twenty hours of training to obtain Level One certification in Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation. They will leave the session with tools to help implement a culture of nonviolence at their respective organizations.
Phase III: Level Two Training
From the 30 people who receive Level One training, approximately 20 will be selected for Level Two training. Level Two training is a sixty hour intensive that takes place at the University of Rhode Island Kingian Nonviolence Center. Those who complete this training will receive a certification known as “Train the Trainer.” This certification enables them to spread the mission and lessons learned. This training equips participants with the necessary knowledge to replicate the message of the Kingian Nonviolence Training. This truly allows the seeds of the training to take root in the community and flourish year after year.
Phase IV: Tracking
The SCLC will employ a Program Coordinator to track and monitor the progress of the Kingian Nonviolence training. The process is done through weekly calls with the participants by the trainers for their course. This is done for six months following completion of the initial training. Additionally, the coordinator distributes surveys to solicit feedback, compiling evaluation remarks with other comments received via email. By maintaining contact with former participants and their network, the coordinator tracks the gradual and cumulative impacts of the training. The SCLC works individually with each company or organization to identify tangible points of progress. Typically, surveys quantify the number of aggressive incidents, reported feelings of internal conflict, and how often respondents felt the training helped them deal with conflict during the reporting period. An ongoing process, this model offers many benefits as well as a useful perspective that may help organizations determine when an additional session may be needed.