SCLC's Lowery to remain president until January
Group still seeking his successorJuly 28, 1997
Web posted at: 4:25 p.m. EDT (2025 GMT)
ATLANTA (CNN) -- The Rev. Joseph Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, is not stepping down this week as previously planned.
At the opening session of its annual meeting, SCLC delegates approved a motion to retain Lowery as the group's leader for a maximum of 90 days.
Derrick Gilliard, SCLC communications director, confirmed that the election of a new president during Wednesday's session would not be held as had been planned. Lowery's term was scheduled to end Friday, August 1.
No reason was given for the delay, but sources tell CNN that the group is having difficulty settling on a candidate who has widespread support within the organization.
Lowery has been president of the civil rights organization for 20 years. Among his accomplishments, he lists extending the Voting Rights Act, sounding the alarm on AIDS and challenging the nation's youth.
As it stands now, his term will end on January 15, the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the group's founders and its first president.
Lowery was honored Sunday night with a gala tribute as part of the SCLC's 40th anniversary. It was attended by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Coretta Scott King and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young.
Lowery defends affirmative action
In an address to the delegates Monday, Lowery defended affirmative action and called for more help for inner cities.
"Where do we go from here? Activism," Lowery told an overflow crowd at historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. "Where do we go from here? Unity."
"We must stand firmly by affirmative action," he said. "When the government, by public policy, kept you out, the government has a responsibility, by public policy, to bring you in. And it needs to be just as intentional about including you as it was about excluding you."
The 75-year-old Lowery, who led many civil rights marches through the South, called on President Clinton to provide more resources to the nation's cities.
"There is no way under God's sun to deal with racism and the complexities and the crises around race without dealing with the inner city," he said.
"How are you going to deal with drugs and crime and despair and frustration without dealing with the city?" Lowery asked. "I know you can't solve all the problems with money, but I guarantee you can't solve many without it."
Reuters contributed to this report.
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