By: RAY HENRY
DECATUR, GA. The daughter of slain civil rights leader Martin
Luther King Jr. visited the convention of a badly divided group
co-founded by her father, but she left Saturday without any sign that
the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has mended its leadership rift.
Bernice King's appearance at a Decatur church marked the second time
this week that she has attended separate conventions run by rival
groups claiming to lead the famed civil rights organization. The
group has asked a state judge to decide who is the rightful
leadership team. A ruling has not yet come.
The Rev. Markel Hutchins, named the SCLC's interim president and CEO
earlier this year, had invited King to the session and said they
embraced after she arrived.
"We are very interested in reconciliation, pulling our family
together," Hutchins said in a brief interview.
Still, there was no immediate resolution to the famed civil rights
group's leadership crisis. Hutchins said people from both factions
have been communicating recently, but he declined to name those
involved in the talks or describe their nature.
King is the youngest daughter of the civil rights leader and was
elected the SCLC's eighth president and its first woman leader in
October. She has declined to take office until the leadership dispute
among its board is somehow resolved.
On Tuesday, King made a similar appearance at a rival SCLC convention
in Atlanta, said her assistant, De'Leice Drane.
Earlier this month, King led a prayer vigil at her father's old
church in Atlanta and urged both sides in the dispute to come
together and end months of bitter infighting.
The dueling SCLC factions split apart last fall over allegations of
financial mismanagement by the embattled chairman and treasurer, who
have refused to step aside pending federal and local investigations.
The result has been divided allegiances among two factions of board
members who are conducting the SCLC's affairs independent of one another.