King, 46, the youngest child of the late Martin Luther King Jr. and a minister at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., is the organization's seventh permanent president and its first female leader, SCLC spokeswoman Renee Richardson told CNN. Her father was co-founder and first president of the group, founded in 1957.
The vote by the board of directors was 23-15, The Atlanta Constitution-Journal reported.
The younger King was elected over former Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Wendell Griffen, 57, of Pine Bluff, who is pastor of New Millennium Church in Little Rock, CNN said. She succeeds the Rev. Byron Clay, who had been interim president since the Rev. Charles Steele Jr. quit this year.
Her brother, Martin Luther King III, was president of SCLC from 1997 to 2004.
Clay told the newspaper the board will meet soon with King, who was not present when the vote was taken.
"She is excited, I am excited and the nation will be excited," Clay said.