Forty-one years after his father founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Martin Luther King III was sworn in as its new leader and announced a membership drive to revitalize the image of the financially ailing organization.
King replaced Joseph E. Lowery, whose 20-year reign was troubled by questions about the group's mission and fund-raising difficulties.Under the new leadership, King said, the group plans to tackle social problems - "unrest, poverty, racism, violence" - but first needs to build its foundation by fostering youth leadership and catching up to technology.
"The only way that one can be successful in the '90s and beyond, is to be able to have your constituents knowing how to utilize computers, knowing how to use the Internet, knowing that it is critical that you get your message out," King said Saturday before his inauguration in Laurel, Md.
The soft-spoken, 40-year-old son of Martin Luther King Jr. said the conference "historically was born out of protest."
In April, the board of directors voted to abolish the organization's women's group, which was headed by Lowery's wife, Evelyn. King said it was using the conference name and fund-raising potential without having to answer to its board.