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SCLC Pulls KC Convention

By Sylvia Maria Gross


The national president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has cancelled plans to hold the group's 2008 convention in Kansas City. SCLC is the second national civil rights organization to boycott what they consider Mayor Mark Funkhouser's insensitivity to race.

Southern Christian Leadership Conference national president Charles Steele made the announcement before the organization's annual Martin Luther King luncheon at the downtown Marriott.

"Well I'm hoping before the day is out that the mayor will call me - I don't want to shut Kansas City down, but we will. We had to shut down Montgomery, we had to shut down Birmingham," Steele said.

Steele says he followed the local chapter's recommendation, which came after Mayor Funkhouser's attempt to fire the city manager, who is African American, and his parks board appointment of a member of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.

Kansas City Convention and Visitor's Bureau President Rick Hughes says the cancelled plans will cost the city about a half-million dollars in lost revenue. "These would be considered from an economic standpoint, small, however, from an influence, prominence, directing national thought, especially in this year, these are huge, huge conferences to have in the community," Hughes said. He also said that Kansas City's convention business has been on an upswing because of the city's new attractions.

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