The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the organization co-founded and originally led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., announced on August 30 that the Atlanta-based civil rights organization would lead a campaign to help the family of Jacob Blake secure support for his long term recovery and care.

Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., president and CEO of SCLC revealed the news publicly after a meeting with Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Jr., and other family members at a location in Wauwatosa, where the younger Blake remains in a hospital receiving treatment.

Family members have traveled to the Milwaukee area from other regions of the country after receiving news last Sunday, August 23, of Jacob Blake III being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, a city of 100,000 residents about one hour south of Milwaukee.

The unjustified shooting left the 29-year-old Blake, an African American, paralyzed from the waist down. The White officer has only been placed on leave from the department, and the shooting led to numerous protests around the nation.

Blake’s father said that the family was receiving overwhelming support from Americans to get them through the early days of the tragedy, but now the they are concerned about his long-term recovery after being released from the hospital.

“Iin the spirit of our founder, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I am here with Mr. Blake to let him and his family know that the SCLC will lead a campaign to secure support for your son’s long term care,” said Dr. Steele during the August 29 Blake family visit.

After a telephone conversation earlier in the week, Dr. Steele said he traveled to the Milwaukee area to personally meet with Blake Sr. to determine his son’s needs.

During the Wauwatosa meeting, Blake Sr. informed Dr. Steele that the family, which includes 14 other siblings, required about $20,000 to address immediate needs around care and support. He said that many family members in the Milwaukee area were staying close to provide comfort to his son, but also to seek justice in the case.

Blake Sr., who currently lives in Charlotte, said there is no way he can return home. That displacement meant that he needed all the support he could get to stay by his son’s side.

“We are going to deal with the here and now and the realness of what is going on, so there is no need for us to speculate,” said Blake Sr. “My son has suffered so much damage to his vertebrae. It is blown out. The reality is, you do not recover from the vertebrae being blown out. But I have my son, and at this moment, I do not care about anything else. If you could have felt the way he held my hand, that is all I need. When he squeezes my hand, he knows I love him.”

Dr. Steele said the SCLC was moved to address the Blake family’s appeal for support, especially since the family had a longstanding history with the SCLC. Blake’s grandfather, the Rev. Jacob Blake Sr., was the pastor for Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Evanston, Illinois decades ago and active in the SCLC when Dr. King was alive.

“This is a gelling point where we must all come together to assure and ensure that this great family will not be left alone in addressing this challenge,” Dr. Steele told the father. “I commit myself and the SCLC to standing with the family to make sure they get what is needed for your son’s long-term care. That is the least we can do for our brothers and sisters whose families have been linked to the struggle to end racism and poverty.”

Dr. Steele said the campaign will include raising funds for the Blake family, who will need money to provide long-term medical treatment and support for their son, as well as for the caregivers who will need to provide care around the clock.

“The Blake family most humbly and graciously accepts this support from the SCLC, an organization I have been familiar with since I was child,” said Blake Sr. “I looked up to the leaders then and I look up to them now, and it gives me comfort knowing they will be working on our behalf. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

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Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)

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