Sharpton: Time to ‘re-up’ in the battle against civil rights abuses |

Sharpton: Time to ‘re-up’ in the battle against civil rights abuses

DAYTON, Ohio – The activism that brought progress to blacks in the 1960s remains vital today, as evidenced by the recent tussle over the Voting Rights Act, the Rev. Al Sharpton said Monday at the national convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.Activists’ pressure led to last week’s renewal of the 1965 law that opened polls to millions of black Americans by outlawing racist voting practices, Sharpton said.”Many are acting like the struggle is yesterday. Don’t act like there are not civil rights issues today,” he said. “We come to re-up, so we can stay on the battlefields and keep doing in the 21st century what was done in the 20th century.”Sharpton, Martin Luther King III and SCLC President Charles Steele took part in a panel discussion titled “A Changing Movement: From the Streets to the Suites.”Blacks who have succeeded in the corporate world must not turn their backs on the civil rights activists and groups who helped open the doors for them, Sharpton said.”They are the results of us,” he said. “When people think they are in the suites as an alternative to the streets, they will soon be back in the streets with us in a short matter of time.”Only some blacks have been blessed enough to become corporate leaders, King said.”The masses of people in our communities are unfortunately – even in 2006 – still in the streets,” King said. “I believe this organization will always be an activist organization, which means that we must never, ever abandon the streets.”Earlier Steele said the group has opened conflict resolution centers in Dayton and Israel and has plans for more around the world. The centers are designed to train citizens, police, teachers and community leaders how to solve disputes without violence.”We have a plan for the Middle East we’re going to be talking about,” he said in advance of the convention, which runs through Wednesday.The Atlanta-based organization – which the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and two associates founded in 1957 – helped organize some of the defining moments of the civil rights era, including the march on Washington in 1963 and the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march two years later.Steele took over the presidency in November 2004 at the board’s request after squabbling and questionable management left the group bankrupt. The power struggle led to the resignations of Claud Young as board chairman and the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth of Cincinnati as president.”We had serious problems,” Steele recalled. “The lights were off. The phone was off. We couldn’t meet payroll.”The SCLC is now on solid financial footing and has raised $2 million for a new headquarters in Atlanta it plans to begin building Aug. 31, he said.—On the Net:

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