By George E. Curry NNPA Editor-in-Chief
DAYTON, Ohio (NNPA)- With a conflict resolution center already established in Israel and a direct line of communication to Hamas-one of Israel's most ardent foes-SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) President Charles W. Steele Jr. said Dr. Martin Luther King's old organization is poised to play a key role in defusing tensions around the world. "In a world of prejudice, violence, poverty and ignorance, the message of SCLC is to teach and apply Martin Luther King Jr.'s principles of non-violence and conflict resolution," Steele said. One of SCLC's goals, he said, is, "to bring peace, security and hope to the afflicted people in the South, throughout America and around the world."
Steele said that mission was crystallized in a conversation he had in December 2004 with Prime Minister Aerial Sharon and his chief of staff. "I was in Israel talking with the chief of staff and the prime minister and he [the chief of staff] said, "You all can bring about world peace. You all have been through the Trans-Atlantic African slave trade and you got lynched, you were murdered, your women were raped and killed, but you didn't turn out to be terrorists. You didn't strap yourselves with a bomb, you don't have any blood on your hands." I said, "What are you saying Mr. Chief of Staff to the prime minister?' He said, 'Charles, what I am saying is you can stop the war.'" Steele said representatives of Hamas have recently gotten in touch with him, urging SCLC to help diffuse tension in the Middle East. And, Steele said he plans to do just that.
The answer to curbing violence in the U.S. and internationally, Steele said, is the establishment of SCLC Martin Luther King Jr. Conflict Resolution Centers. SCLC has established two centers, one in Dayton, Ohio, the home of Board Chairman Raleigh Trammell, and one in Dimona, Israel, the home of African Hebrew Israelites. A third center is expected to be opened in Ivrea, Italy later this year. The goal is to establish 50 centers in the U.S. and 10 abroad by 2010, Steele said.