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The Rev. Howard Creecy Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,  died early Thursday morning, a spokesman for the SCLC confirmed Thursday.

Creecy, pastor of Olivet Church in Fayette County, died of a heart attack at around 12:30 a.m. in Atlanta,  according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

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Creecy, 57, was elected SCLC president in January after Bernice King, daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., declined the position. Before that, Creecy had served as the interim president of the civil rights organization founded by Martin King in 1957.

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When he took the helm on Jan. 30, Creecy acknowledged that the SCLC had suffered internal divisions in recent years. His mission, he said, was to help define the direction of the group in the 21st century.

Funeral details are to be announced soon.

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