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Tuesday August 16th, 2022 11:40PM

SCLC board sues co-founder Lowery, wife

By The Associated Press
<p>The board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has accused co-founder Joseph Lowery of violating his financial responsibility to the civil rights group by leasing office space to an organization run by his wife for $1 a year.</p><p>The board, chaired by Detroit physician Claud Young, also names the Rev. Lowery's wife, Evelyn, and SCLC W.O.M.E.N., which she founded in 1979, in a Superior Court lawsuit filed last week in Atlanta.</p><p>The SCLC claims Lowery did not seek the board's approval before entering into the lease agreement in 1994. The suit also claims SCLC W.O.M.E.N. incorporated in 1989 without approval of the SCLC board.</p><p>A spokesman for the Lowerys said Thursday that Evelyn Lowery's mother died this week, and they have been unavailable for comment. Lowery will address the allegations in the lawsuit after the funeral next week, the spokesman said.</p><p>"The forces led by Young are the same ones who sought to destroy young Martin Luther King III and drove him to leave the organization his father founded with Lowery and Abernathy," said the Rev. James Orange, another civil rights leader.</p><p>The SCLC was established by Lowery, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy in 1957. King was the first president. Abernathy took over when King was assassinated in 1968 but resigned in 1977.</p><p>Lowery, now 81, was vice president from 1957-67, chairman of the board of directors from 1967-77 and president for 20 years beginning in 1977.</p><p>Martin Luther King III took over in 1998. Three years later, the board instructed him to do a better job or lose his position after chairman Young, the brother of former Detroit mayor Coleman Young, accused him of being insubordinate and failing to raise enough money for the civil rights organization.</p><p>The rift was patched up, but King stepped down late last year to replace his brother, Dexter, as president and chief executive of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change.</p><p>The SCLC board lawsuit said SCLC W.O.M.E.N. committed fraud by using the SCLC name and an image of Martin Luther King Jr. in fund-raising efforts, yet refused to be accountable to the SCLC board.</p><p>For several years, the SCLC has asked to review the women's organization's budget and corporate minutes, but it has not complied, the lawsuit said.</p><p>The SCLC brought a similar suit against the Lowerys and the women's organization last year but dropped it within three weeks.</p><p>State Rep. Tyrone Brooks of Atlanta, a member of the SCLC, defended the Lowerys.</p><p>"The Lowerys are in the twilight of their years and they should not have to be worried about lawsuits coming from within the organization that they have given their lives to," Brooks said. "Here you have Claud Young doing what the Ku Klux Klan and FBI couldn't do _ destroy the SCLC."</p><p>___</p><p>HASH(0x2865414)</p>
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