Profile: New SCLC Leader, Howard Creecy

citizen | 7/12/2011, 12:20 p.m.
By Stan Washington...
Former Fulton County Chaplin Howard Creecy Jr., newly elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, expressed confidence that he can repair the SCLC's image and restore the iconic civil rights organization to its former luster. (Photo by Stan Washington.)

By Stan Washington Special to the NNPA from The Atlanta Voice

ATLANTA It seemed for a time that the iconic Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) had encountered an enemy more powerful than the Ku Klux Klan or the White Citizens Council a foe that might finally destroy the organization that survived the assassination of its most famous leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Ironically, this enemy was the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Charges of mismanagement and institutional infighting largely over who should lead the historic civil rights group appeared to threaten the viability of the Atlanta-based organization.

The conflict, which ultimately landed in court, also delayed the installation of its president-elect Bernice King, the youngest daughter of the slain civil rights leader.

When a Fulton County judge ruled, last year, on which board was legitimate, King opted not to be installed as president, saying that she and the court-sanctioned board had a difference of opinion on how she should govern.

The board then appointed a new president, Atlanta minister and former Fulton County Chaplin Howard Creecy Jr., whose late father was involved in the civil rights movement and was a college roommate of former SCLC president, Ralph D. Abernathy.

In one of his first interviews since taking office, Creecy expressed confidence that he can repair SCLC's image and restore the organization to its former role as a leader in the fight against injustice.

"SCLC is in my DNA," said Creecy, a third-generation minister who pastors The Olivet Church in Fayetteville.

The following are excerpts from the interview:

Atlanta Voice: Why did you decide to accept the position of president?

Creecy: Being on the inside, I knew the truth was not being told. The story was being spun inaccurately and what we were fighting for in terms of the court struggle was not being reported by the press.

The press made this an internal fight about personalities, politics, positions and power and that never was what the fight was about. It was about governing according to laws and the constitution of the organization.

Voice: In light of what has happened with the SCLC over the past few years, some people believe the organization has outlived its usefulness. How do you view the organization in the 21st century?

Creecy: I often wonder how could that assertion be made by any credible thinker when, in reality, in many ways, statistically and demographically, as a people, we are worse off than we were 40 years ago.

There are more homeless and hungry African Americans living on the streets or on the verge of being put into the streets today than there were in 1960. Why is that question always raised specifically in the Black community about Black organizations and institutions? No one is raising that question about the JDL or the ADL or the American Irish Catholic Society or the Italian American Society.

Voice: So, what are some of your plans to clear up the false notion that SCLC is not relevant?

Creecy: The time is right for a new generation of leadership to emerge. I'm not the new generation of leadership. I'm the bridge between the past and the future.