Celebrate Black History Month: SCLC founded in 1957

SCLCDr. Martin Luther King Jr., his wife Coretta Scott King, lead march from Atlanta University to the Georgia state Capitol. (Hugh Stovall/AJC staff) 1966

With the goal of redeeming “the soul of America” through nonviolent resistance, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was established in 1957 to coordinate the action of local protest groups throughout the South. Under the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr., the organization utilized the power and independence of black churches as the strength of its activities. King described SCLC as “church-oriented because of the very structure of the Negro community in the South.”

The catalyst for formation of the SCLC was the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Following the success of the boycott in 1956, Bayard Rustin wrote a series of working papers to address the possibility of expanding the efforts in Montgomery to other cities throughout the South. In these papers, he asked whether or not an organization to coordinate these activities was needed. After much discussion with his advisors, King invited southern black ministers to the Negro Leaders Conference on Nonviolent Integration (soon to be renamed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) at Ebenezer Church in Atlanta.

For more information about the SCLC, check out the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute website.

Learn something about Milwaukee-area Black History …

Visit the Wisconsin Black Historical Society, located at 2620 W Center Street.  Or listen to the WI Black Historical Society’s “Did You Know” series.


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