ATLANTA – (Dec. 28, 2007) – Dr. Charles Steele, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), will travel to the Middle East on New Year’s Day to discuss Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s methods of nonviolent conflict resolution with Palestinian groups.
Dr. Steele, the sixth president of the world-renowned civil rights organization founded by Dr. King in 1957, will hold training sessions with Palestinian leaders from Jan. 3 to Jan. 7 at the Grand Hotel in Bethlehem, officials announced today.
“We will convey the message of the Kingian Theory,” said Dr. Steele, who is currently meeting with SCLC board members in Dayton, Ohio. “We as a people have encountered and endured the worst inhumane treatment of any people, and we have not turned to violence. We have the moral authority because we have proven that nonviolence is the answer to resolving conflict.”
Dr. Steele will travel to Palestine with Dr. Bernard Lafayette, a distinguished scholar-in-residence and Director of Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island, who also is known for assisting Dr. King in the development of nonviolent conflict resolution theory. SCLC officials said Steele and Lafayette will spend five intensive days with more than 35 Middle Eastern leaders.
The assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto increases the urgency of the need for nonviolent conflict resolution training sessions, Dr. Lafayette said.
“I think the non-violence theory will help people understand that you can assassinate the leader, but that the act will not transform the situation,” said Dr. Lafayette. “Violence is the language of inarticulate people who don’t know how to talk to each other. It is not a way to solve problems. Every time we have been at war, the goal was to get people to sit down and talk to each other so we can resolve the conflict.
“No war has ever been won on the battlefield,” Dr. Lafayette said. “Wars are won when diplomats get to the table and come to an agreement.”