Dr. Charles Steele, Jr.

Wanda Trent-Phillips

Dr. Charles Steele, Jr.

2013 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Charles Steele, Jr. was born on August 3, 1946, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He is President Emeritus and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Dr. Steele is a civil rights leader first, using his constituency as a pulse to direct action and chapter development of public policies. His vision of a “national playing field” keeps him in touch with current issues and political fairness.

In 1985, Dr. Steele was elected to the Tuscaloosa City Council where he served two terms. His dedication to serving his constituents is evident through his many worthwhile and tangible accomplishments in Tuscaloosa County and West Alabama. During his tenure as City Councilman, he organized the Unity Day Scholarship Fund, the Tuscaloosa Police Athletic League, and secured funds for purchase of Palmore Park and Barrs’ Quarters (Charles Steele Estates). This was the first low-income no down payment home ownership program in West Alabama. He obtained the funds to build the Bernice Washington Insight Center, a drug treatment center. He organized the Tuscaloosa Drug Task Force and after many years of relenting efforts, the Partners for a Drug free Tuscaloosa County (formerly Tuscaloosa Drug Task Force). During that time the partnership was awarded one million dollars.

In 1994, Charles Steele, Jr. was elected to the Alabama state senate. As Senator he played a key role in recruiting Mercedes Benz to Tuscaloosa County. He also recruited several new plants in his district. He was instrumental in locating Tire and Wheel Assembly (T&WA) in Greene County, H&H (truck beds) in Perry County and Greenco Dimensions, Inc. (drum sticks) in Greene County. He also sponsored a non-traditional educational program with Robert Townsend of Hollywood, California for the youth of his district. Additionally, he recruited the Rosa Parks movie to Alabama, where he served as a consultant and associate producer to the production of the $7 million CBS movie project. He was serving his third term before resigning to become the National Vice President of the SCLC, the Atlanta based organization co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In October 2000, Charles Steele was elected as a Senate Member of the High Chamber (U.S. Parliamentary Group) of the International States Parliament for Safety and Peace. The International Parliament nominated Dr. Steele to the Ministry of American Affairs on the 15th of March 2001. In November 2004, he became President and CEO of SCLC. In April 2006, Charles Steele, Jr. was inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers of Morehouse College. On April 20, 2006 he was inducted into the Tuscaloosa Hall of Fame. In October of 2006 under the slogan “New Day…New Way,” Charles Steele, Jr. and SCLC made history by breaking ground for their new and much anticipated $3.3 million international headquarters.

Dr. Steele vigorously raised money for the new headquarters through corporate friends and sponsors.

During his five years as SCLC President and CEO he raised over 10 million dollars including the 3.3 million dollars he raised for the headquarters.

In February of 2009, Dr. Steele resigned as SCLC President and CEO to start his own consulting firm, Charles Steele & Associates (CSA). In 2011 the board of SCLC unanimously voted Dr. Steele as President Emeritus. On July 2, 2012 he was elected Chief Executive Officer for the second time. Dr. Steele made history by becoming the first SCLC CEO to ever hold this position twice. Charles Steele graduated high school from Druid High in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and attended college at Mississippi Valley State University and Oakland University. He received his bachelors from The F.T. Bozeman school of Ministry and Global Evangelical Christian College of Louisiana. He also received his Masters from F. T. Bozeman Global Evangelical Seminary and received an earned Doctorate degree from Mt. Carmel Theological Seminary. He also holds an Honorary Doctor of Human Letters Degree from the prestigious Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, an Honorary Doctorate of Christian Education from The F.T. Bozeman school of Ministry and Global Evangelical Christian College of Louisiana, Honorary Doctorate from Mississippi Valley State University, an Honorary Doctorate from Birmingham Bible College and other numerous Honorary Doctorate Degrees.

He and his wife, Cathelean Annette Steele are the parents of two daughters: LeKeisha and Charla, grandsons Carson and Cruz and son-in-law Cleveland. Dr. Steele is co-owner of Vanhoose and Steele Funeral Home.

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