By Louise Chu
The Associated Press
ATLANTA - The troubled Southern Christian Leadership Conference concluded its convention Wednesday with the surprise election of the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth of Cincinnati, its 82-year-old interim president, to a full one-year term next year.
His last-minute nomination followed sharp conflicts among supporters of two leading nominees to head the organization, once a leading voice in the civil rights movement but recently beset by internal conflicts and financial problems.
Shuttlesworth, a founding member of the SCLC, is pastor of Greater New Light Baptist Church in Avondale. He is the last of the civil rights movement's "Big Three," which included the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy.
The SCLC's 46th annual convention, held in Jacksonville, Fla., was plagued by cancellations by some of the biggest names slated to appear, including Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
Shuttlesworth's election followed a lengthy battle between Greg Mathis and former Georgia state Sen. Ralph David Abernathy III.
SCLC leaders then turned to Shuttlesworth, who had served as interim president since November.
"I had not intended to go beyond January 31, but the need comes," Shuttlesworth said.
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