SCLC-NC – Change Is Happening

by Terry Watson | July 19th, 2021
SCLC-NC (Photos by TMF Photography)

SCLC-NC (Photos by TMF Photography)

From the conception of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, North Carolina has lead by example of what it means to be a freedom fighter. Dr. Golden Frinks served as the first president of the state organization. He was instrumental in integrating several Jim Crowe organizations and commercial sites.

Dr. Frink’s was the national Field Secretary for the national office, answering directly to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the founder of the national SCLC in New Orleans, LA, in 1957. Dr. Frink’s held this position until Dr. King was assassinated in 1968. He then concentrated on the development of freedom in his home state of North Carolina. Benny Rountree was his right-hand person doing the movement of the late ’60s and beyond , until Frink’s death in 2004.

Bennie Rountree has been a national board member for the last 20 years. In 2010, the SCLC-NC was created to address the needs of the citizens of North Carolina.

Rountree is a Pitt County Civil Rights leader. Rountree’s start as a community leader began as a teenager on a Pitt County farm, where he tried to get blacks to understand their history to empower them. After Rountree learned of Martin Luther King, Jr., he joined the Southern Christian Leadership Organization (SCLC) in 1957. During his career, Rountree met and worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dr. Frinks. By 1970, Rountree had risen to become the President of the Pitt County Chapter of the SCLC and later, state President of the organization. Before Rountree grew to become President of the Pitt County branch of the SCLC, he had been vice-president under the leadership of George Garrett, the older brother of D.D. Garrett, leader of Pitt County’s NAACP.

Since 2010, SCLC-NC has worked to address discrimination, the criminal justice system, and voter suppression, just to mention a few. The majority of financial support has come from the community and the generous support of other sources that possess a desire for justice and equality. SCLC-NC has partnered with the North Carolina NAACP, the faith-based community, and other organizations with similar goals and objectives.

On June 18, 2021, Reverend Michael Sparks was installed as the President of the SCLC-NC, replacing the retiring Bennie Roundtree.

Sparks has been a resident of North Carolina since 2000, moving here from his native home of Houston, TX. While in Houston, he met his wife of 24 years, Charlene Sparks, a traveling nurse. He shares the magic happened, and the bells rung, confirming that she was the one God had prepared just for him. Charlene headed back home to North Carolina with her husband-to-be. Today, today they share 3 wonderful daughters and 2 grand children and are faithful members of Love and Faith Christian Fellowship in Greensboro, NC, growing under the leadership of Pastor Michael Thomas.

As the new head for the SCLC-NC, Sparks says his goal is to reinterate the plan set forth by Dr. King. “Our goal is to address many of the issues that are affecting the Black communities today. Our primary focus moving forward are health disparities and voting suppression. We will come from a non-volient approach and seek to partner with other organizations and systems who share similar interest,” he shares.

Sparks is an entrepreneur at heart. He owns several businesses while enjoying a lengthy career as an airplane technician for American Airlines.

Dr. William A. Merritt serves as the Field Secretary for the SCLC-NC. He is a native of Washington, D.C., and currently resides in Burlington, NC.

He shares his primary objective with the SCLC-NC is to assist with opening additional chapters within the states of NC. There are currently three chapters; Greenville, Roanoke Rapids, and Greensboro. “I believe there is so much that still needs to be done to address the problems in the Black communities. We are ready and willing to put in the work, along with others, to make a change and impact,” he says.

Also sworn into the position of State Event Coordinator was Denise Little. She will be responsible for assisting the SCLC-NC with fundraising events to support the State initiatives. Denise will lead and coordinate the future for effectiveness and justice for voters rights.

The SCLC-NC has partnered with the Women With Vision Inc. organization to bring education and awareness to the health issues that are affecting not only the members of the SCLC-NC, but also the Black community as a whole. Led by Charlene Sparks, Women of Vision Inc.’s mission is to empower women to embrace abundant living through the impartation of knowledge, the strengthening of faith, and the birthing of vision.

Sparks shares her goal is to partner with SCLC-NC and conduct health events around the state of North Carolina that will address the health concerns of African Americans. One recent event held by Women With Vision and sponsored by SCLC-NC was held on June 19, 2021, in Greensboro at the Salvation Army Events Center. “With our events, we want to focus on educating our attendees about high blood pressure management, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes management, chronic pain, and medication management,” she shares. “We are in an opioid crisis right now. People are in their homes and overdosing on their medicine at alarming rates, partially due to their inability to manage their prescribed medicines. I believe that with proper education, we will save lives.”

Moving forward, the SCLC-NC is excited about the opportunities to bring change and restoration to the Black communities throughout North Carolina. For anyone interested in being a part of or interested in learning more about the programs and services available, please visit their website.

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