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SCLC sued over leadership
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Convention in Florida

ATLANTA (AP) — The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is scheduled to hold its annual convention this week in the city where 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was fatally shot in an effort to keep attention on the incident.

The SCLC convention opens Thursday in Sanford, Fla. Martin was killed Feb. 26, and his death has raised questions about racial profiling and gun rights. Neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman has been charged in the shooting.

The SCLC's theme this year is "Your Community, Your Change: Vote for Transformation," which reflects a focus on voter disenfranchisement and suppression — two issues the civil rights group has traditionally targeted as areas of concern.

The conference ends Saturday after a rally and march to Sanford City Hall.

The SCLC was co-founded in 1957 by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

ATLANTA — A group of leaders of local affiliates of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is suing the national organization and says Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is its current and lawful president of the organization.

The group filed a civil complaint seeking an emergency hearing on the matter on Tuesday and is calling for a judge to stop the civil rights group's annual meeting scheduled for Thursday.

C.T. Vivian, a longtime civil rights activist who worked alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is the group's interim president. Farris says he was unfairly forced out earlier this year.

A spokesman for the SCLC says the organization has no comment on the lawsuit, but added that none of the plaintiffs are "bonafide members" of the group.

The SCLC was co-founded by King in 1957 to fight racial injustice. The organization has been plagued for decades by infighting.

Farris, King's nephew, recently expressed his desire to reclaim the presidency after claiming he was unfairly forced out earlier this year.

Expensive legal battles in recent years have left the organization financially vulnerable, and bickering has left SCLC adrift. SCLC has been in danger of losing its headquarters, which was opened debt-free in 2007.

The group has had four presidents in three years. Former SCLC President Charles Steele, who served from 2004 until 2009, was named chief executive officer last month in an effort to right the organization's finances.

The SCLC is set to hold its annual conference beginning Thursday in Sanford, Fla., in the city where 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. The case heightened racial tensions and raised questions about Florida's so-called "stand your ground" law.



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