ATLANTA – The president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (search) has resigned less than four months after taking office, another blow to the troubled civil rights organization.
The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth's (search) resignation Wednesday comes after the board of directors suspended him last week and the chaotic convention this summer in which police had to be called to keep the peace.
"For years, deceit, mistrust and a lack of spiritual discipline and truth have eaten away at the core of this once-hallowed organization," Shuttlesworth wrote in a statement explaining his resignation.
In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Shuttlesworth, 82, said internal power struggles by SCLC leaders have brought the 47-year-old organization to "the low point in its history."
Four decades after the SCLC led the battle to end segregation, the group finds itself plagued by leadership battles, financial problems and dropping membership numbers.
The board did not give a reason for suspending Shuttlesworth and longtime SCLC Chairman Claud Young, but they followed Shuttlesworth's attempt to fire a longtime SCLC official.
In its heyday, the SCLC, which was co-founded and first headed by the Rev. Martin Luther King (search) Jr., was one of the most effective political organizations in modern American history.
Once supported by tens of thousands of members, the SCLC now has fewer than 3,000 members, said Sherri Chance, the former SCLC director of chapters and affiliates. Of the 58 chapters, only 10 paid dues to the national organization.