christian leadership conference


Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Ga., on Jan. 15, 1929. King was a Baptist minister, activist, humanitarian, and civil rights leader who practiced peaceful, nonviolent civil disobedience to protest racial inequality.

In 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped to organize the Selma to Montgomery marches, and the following year, he and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In the final years of his life, King expanded his focus to include opposition to poverty and the Vietnam War, alienating many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled “Beyond Vietnam.”

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tenn., while planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., for the Poor People’s Campaign. Riots broke out in cities around the U.S. in response to King’s death. (AP)

See more photos on the life of MLK and our other slideshows on Yahoo News.

My favourite response to all the talk of riots not doing anything is the contrast between the Birmingham Campaign and the Birmingham Riot in 1963. The former was led by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (mainly Martin Luther King, Fred Shuttlesworth, and James Bevel) and was focused entirely on maintaining nonviolence against whites, although they were willing to attack black people who violated the boycott and destroy the goods they had bought from white-owned businesses. For 5 weeks of protests, with children as young as 8 being attacked by police water cannons and dogs and arrested en masse in order to get the best pictures out to the international press and starve local businesses of profits, they achieved desegregation in a single city. The next night, the KKK bombed the motel where Dr. King had been saying and the black people of the city took to the streets in anger. A cop was stabbed, dozens of buildings were burned, and the army was deployed to police the streets. The prize for that single night of action, as confirmed in declassified White House recordings, was JFK’s support for the landmark legislation that would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the first civil rights legislation to pass Congress in nearly 100 years. Tell me, which do you think was more successful?

In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Seven months after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Museum held an exhibition of artworks donated by leading American artists, which were all to be sold to benefit the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the civil rights organization largely founded by King. It was the first time MoMA had held an exhibition for the benefit of another organization; the press release noted that “the Trustees felt that the Museum galleries should be made available to the American artists who wanted to honor Dr. King and the goals to which he had dedicated his life.” The nearly 60 participants included many of the most renowned artists of the day, including Romare Bearden, Alexander Calder, Jacob Lawrence, Isamu Noguchi, Robert Rauschenberg, and Mark Rothko.

See images of the installation and more at 18 of #52exhibitions #MoMAhistory

Badass Black Women History Month:
Celebrating 28 Black Women Who Said,
“Fuck it, I’ll Do It!”

Day 13: Septima Poinsette Clark
“The Mother of the Movement”

Septima Poinsette Clark is one of the most important people in the Civil Rights Movement. She worked closely with MLK, Jr. and W.E.B. DuBois and was the first woman to gain a position on the Southern Christian Leadership Conference board. Septima was a teacher from South Carolina who believed education was the greatest tool marginalized groups had to fight systems of injustice. 

While MLK called her “The Mother of the Movement,” she faced sexism within the Civil Rights Movement. Her position was constantly questioned and her influence has largely been overshadowed by the men she worked with. That’s a damn shame though, because Septima was badder than all these dudes. Her father was born into slavery while her mother was a free woman from Haiti. Septima’s mother refused to ever serve any white person and raised her daughters with the same principals. They were never to be servants to anyone. 

When Septima decided to become a teacher, she noticed the baffling inequality she and her students were subjected to. She was paid $35 per week to teach 132 black students with only one other teacher. The white school across the street only had 3 students and 1 teacher who was paid $85 per week. This inspired Septima to join the NAACP where she fought for equal pay. After 40 years of employment in the Charleston school system, she was fired from her teaching position due to her political involvement with the NAACP. She lost her pension and was seen as a pariah in the community. Even at a fundraiser designed to help her, people refused to have their picture taken with her for fear that they would lose their own jobs.

This ended up being a blessing for Septima. She moved to Tennessee where she joined the Highlander Folk School. There, Septima focused on adult education and literacy. She was inspired by her own father who could not write his name growing up. Septima realized the best way to fight the racist voting rules of the south was to arm people with knowledge. She established her own “Citizenship Schools” that gave black people self-pride, cultural-pride, literacy, and a sense of one’s citizenship rights. Over 10,000 teachers would train in her Citizenship Schools and open their own chapters, teaching over 25,000 people by 1961.

By 1958, 37 of Septima’s students were able to pass the voter registration test. By 1969, 700,000 black people were able to become registered voters thanks to Septima’s work. 


uncredited writer, Chicago Tribune, 26 March 1967

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership conference, told 5,000 peace demonstrators yesterday that the Viet Nam war is a “blasphemy against all that America stands for,” and that President Johnson is more interested in the Viet Nam war than in the war on poverty.

Dr. King had led the demonstrators in a parade in State street. At his side was Dr. Benjamin Spock, co-chairman of the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, a sponsor of the parade and rally.

Atrocities Equal Cong’s
Speaking in the Coliseum, Dr. King said, “We are committing atrocities equal to any perpetrated by the Viet Cong. We are left standing before the world glutted by our own barbarity. We are engaged in a war that seeks to turn the clock of history back and perpetuate white colonialism.”

Dr. King said the United States spends $322,000 for each enemy that is killed and it spends $53 for each person in the “so-called” war on poverty.

“And much of that $53 goes for salaries of people who are not poor,” he said.

Peace Lovers Organize
“Those of us who love peace must organize as effectively as the war hawks. As they spread the propaganda of war, we must spread the propaganda of peace. We must combine the fervor of the civil rights movement with the peace movement. We must demonstrate, preach, and teach, and organize until the very foundations of our nation are shaken.”

Dr. King left immediately after he spoke, and the audience began to leave with him. Dr. Spock, who followed Dr. King to the rostrum, spoke to a half empty house.

Dr. Spock called America the aggressor in Viet Nam and charged that our government has succumbed to an unhealthy distortion of reality.

“Accusation Isn’t True”
“Lyndon Johnson launched attack on North Viet Nam claiming that it was engaged in a direct military effort to take over South Viet Nam. But history shows—to anyone willing to read it—that this accusation was not true.

“For 13 years our government has been trying, unsuccessfully to gain control of South Viet Nam, by means of a Quisling puppet regime and more recently by armed invasion.”

Dr. Spock to Quit
After the rally, Dr. Spock, 64, said he plans to retire from his post at Western Reserve university to devote more time to the peace movement.

 Another speaker, Emil Mazey, secretary-treasurer of the United Auto Workers, said, “There has been a tremendous credibility gap in the information that the American people have been fed concerning Viet Nam.”

He called upon President Johnson to redouble efforts to achieve peace.

Peaceful Pacifists
During the parade, the demonstrators marched along peacefully carrying numerous signs protesting the war and identifying some of the groups of marchers.

Most of the spectators went about their shopping business after brief glances at the parade. Here and there along the route were groups of young men who carried signs saying “We support our men in Viet Nam” and shouting “We hate communists” and “we want Rockwell.”  This was a reference to George Lincoln Rockwell, head ot the American Nazi party.

Septima Poinsette Clark by Ciana Pullen

Born on May 3, 1898, in Charleston, South Carolina, Septima Poinsette Clark branched out into social action with the NAACP while working as a teacher. As part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, she set up citizenship schools that helped many African Americans register to vote. Clark was 89 when she died on December 15, 1987, on South Carolina’s Johns Island.


Baltimore: #SayHerName – Justice March for Korryn Gaines, August 27, 2016.

“This weekend also marks the anniversary of the August 28 Civil Rights March on Washington by Dr. King. On this important anniversary it is fitting that we march in Baltimore for Justice, for Korryn, for her 5 year old son, and for all victims of police terror! Make sure we #SayHerName.”

Endorsers include: Baltimore Chapter of Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, Korryn Gaines Family, R.E.A.L. Justice Coalition (Philadelphia, PA, Tyrone West Family, Ujima Peoples Progress Party, Baltimore Palestine Solidarity

Photos by Rasika Ruwanpathirana

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., left, of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Malcolm X smile for photographers in Washington, D.C., March 26, 1964. They shook hands after King announced plans for direct action protests if Southern senators filibuster against civil rights bill. Malcolm, who has broken with the Black Muslims, predicted another march on Washington if a filibuster against the civil rights bill drags on.



“Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s sons, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”

As the nation continues to witness violence against the Black community - along with repeated calls that #BlackLivesMatter - these 1964 words from Ella Baker hold an eerie weight. The civil rights and human rights activist devoted five decades of her life fighting for equality, placing a strong emphasis on grassroots organization and the power of the people to enact change.

“You didn’t see me on television, you didn’t see news stories about me. The kind of role that I tried to play was to pick up pieces or put together pieces out of which I hoped organization might come. My theory is, strong people don’t need strong leaders.“

Baker acted as a behind-the-scenes facilitator for the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. She played a key role in mentoring, empowering and challenging important figures within the civil rights movement, and while her name might not be as widely recognized, her contributions to society are no less valid.


Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of Bloody Sunday - the day when a March of about 600 people, organized by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama seeking equal voting rights for people of color generally, particularly African Americans, who were consistently denied the right to vote through unequal scrutiny at registration, fabrication of requirements which made registration impossible, blatant denial of entry into registration centers, and lack of access to registration centers -to name a few barriers. The bridge, named after a confederate who after the Civil War became a leader in the Klu Klux Klan and then a State Senator, lived up to the legacy of the name it was given on that Sunday as protesters were met by State Troopers on the other side. Armed with tear gas and billy clubs the Troopers attacked the non-violent activists, sending over 50 to the hospital with serious injuries. Though these activists would return to this bridge to fight for voting rights twice more, the history remembered on this day in particular, Bloody Sunday, reminds us of a national reality that still permeates and plagues our country: this country did not have all people in mind when the constitution was signed and we must continue marching across streets named after Klansmen in search of systemic change towards true equality. May we remember this tragedy today in action and word.

In the mid-1960s, Tom Houck left high school to join the civil rights movement. After meeting Martin Luther King Jr. at an event, Houck decided to volunteer for King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

So, Houck made his way to Atlanta.

“I was standing outside waiting for somebody to come pick me up,” Houck says, remembering the day he arrived in Atlanta. “All of a sudden, Dr. King drove down the street. He said, ‘Tom, you’re here.’ ”

The Accidental Wheelman Of Martin Luther King Jr.

Photo: Todd Burandt/Courtesy of StoryCorps
Black Writers Were Public Enemy No. 1
F.B. Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover’s Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature (Princeton University Press, 2015)
By William J. Maxwell

The FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover-era surveillance of so-called dissidents—a motley assembly of Soviet sympathizers, anti-war activists and civil rights leaders—has been well documented since the 1970s. But [Claude] McKay was the first, though hardly the last, of one Hoover-tracked subculture that has received less attention: black writers, including some of the most celebrated names in American letters. In the heart of the 20th century, beginning decades before the FBI’s campaign against Martin Luther King Jr., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and, later, the Black Panthers, dozens of allegedly subversive African-American poets, novelists, essayists and playwrights were distinct targets of the agency, whose surveillance of this group was thorough, far-reaching and sometimes ruthless.

The extensive scope of this surveillance is only now coming into focus, thanks to the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Building on the detective work of prior researchers who discovered files on the likes of James Baldwin, Langston Hughes and Richard Wright […]

Alarmingly, the disclosed files reveal that the FBI prepared preventive arrests of most of the names dropped above, and altogether more than half of the black authors stalked in its archive. Twenty-seven of 51, accused of communism and related extremisms, were caught in the invisible dragnet of the agency’s “Custodial Detention” index and its successors—hot lists of pre-captives “whose presence at liberty in this country in time of war or national emergency,” Hoover resolved in 1939, “would be dangerous to the public peace and the safety of the United States Government.”



Watch Bernie’s whole speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference here.