DARC Ethiophile Chronicles
On this day
January 10, 1957 The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was founded in New Orleans, Louisiana by five ministers including Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy, Joseph Lowery, Fred Shuttlesworth and C.K. Steele. Dr. King was the founding president, Abernathy president emeritus and Rep. Walter Fauntroy, D-District of Columbia, was chairman of the board of directors.
The catalyst for the formation of SCLC was the Montgomery bus boycott, 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 (King, ‘‘Beyond Vietnam,’’ 144). Under the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr., the organization drew on the power and independence of black churches to support its activities. ‘‘ This conference is called,’’ King wrote, with fellow ministers C. K. Steele and Fred Shuttlesworth in January 1957, ‘‘because we have no moral choice, before God, but to delve deeper into the struggle—and to do so with greater reliance on non-violence and with greater unity, coordination, sharing, and Christian understanding’.
SCLC differed from organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in that it operated as an umbrella organization of afﬁliates. Rather than seek individual members, it coordinated with the activities of local organizations like the Montgomery Improvement Association and the Nashville Christian Leadership Council. ‘‘The life-blood of SCLC movements,’’ as described in one of its pamphlets, ‘‘is in the masses of people who are involved— members of SCLC and its local afﬁliates and chapters’’ (‘‘This is SCLC,’’1971).
To that end, SCLC staff such as Andrew Young and Dorothy Cotton trained local communities in the philosophy of Christian nonviolence by conducting leadership training programs and opening citizenship schools.Through its afﬁliation with churches and its advocacy of nonviolence, SCLC sought to frame the struggle for civil rights in moral terms.