SCLC to honor Hillary Clinton at annual convention

Hillary Clinton on Nov. 13, 2017 speaking about her new book “What Happened” during a promotional book tour at the Fox Theatre, in Atlanta. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

Hillary Clinton on Nov. 13, 2017 speaking about her new book “What Happened” during a promotional book tour at the Fox Theatre, in Atlanta. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

Hillary Rodham Clinton is coming to Atlanta.

The former secretary of state, first lady and Democratic party presidential candidate will be honored with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Realizing the Dream Award.

“Mrs. Clinton has been close to us ever since I have been president of SCLC,” said Charles Steele. “She has always been supportive of the work that we do and has always been a good role model.”

The significance of Clinton’s appearance as the2020 race for the White House begins is not lost on Steele. Clinton lost the 2016 presidential race to Donald Trump. He beat her by 5 points in Georgia, but Clinton won every core metro Atlanta county.

Steele said that few of the more than two dozen candidates fighting for the 2020 Democratic nomination have talked about poverty and the wealth gap.

“Instead of talking about poor people and poverty, most of the candidates used code words like income inequality, Medicare for all, free college tuition and programs for working families,” Steele said. “Most politicians and people in power are reluctant to speak up for the poor, even though new reports show that Wall Street is booming, more Americans are employed, and the rich are getting richer. Meanwhile, the number of poor Americans is also getting larger.”

Steele invited several of the candidates to speak at the convention, but none have confirmed.

“We don’t want to make the convention too political, but we are always open to them,” Steele said.

The SCLC’s 61st annual convention is in Atlanta July 18-20 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Clinton will be presented the Realizing the Dream award at SCLC Women’s Empowerment Luncheon July 19.

The theme of this year’s meeting is “Maintaining the Global Village: Housing, Health and Our Common Humanity,” and Steele said the organization will unveil plans for a new program to provide affordable housing in neglected areas of the United States.

Steele said black American wealth was halved “when we lost our homes during the housing crisis more than a decade ago.”

Steele said the convention will also salute civil rights legends and individuals who are carving new paths while fighting for those living in poverty.

SCLC President Dr. Charles Steele. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

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They include:

• The family of the Rev. Joseph Boone, who died in 2006.

• The Rev. Fred Taylor, who has been a significant civil rights foot soldier for more than 50 years.

• The Rev. Joseph Lowery, the longest-serving former president of the SCLC.

• Ambassador Andrew Young, a former top aide to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Young went on to be a United Nations Ambassador and mayor of Atlanta.

• Xernona Clayton, the founder and CEO of the Trumpet Awards, who also worked closely with King and the SCLC.

• Congresswoman Lucy McBath, who represents Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

• Vernon Smith, the former southeast bureau chief of Newsweek Magazine.