The Southern Christian Leadership Conference

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was established in January of 1957 by group of black ministers and leaders in Atlanta, GA. Their objective was to end segregation in all forms by using nonviolent and economic actions. The SCLC contributed to many major Civil Rights activities including the Albany Movement, the Birmingham Campaign, March on Washington, St. Augustine Protests, the Montgomery March, Grenada Freedom Movement, and the Jackson Conference.

While many blacks supported the group and the movement, they were still governed and controlled by whites. Most of them had white employers and landlords, and they could not afford to risk getting fired or evicted by actively supporting the SCLC. However, black churches were run and controlled by blacks and offered black ministers a voice into the SCLC and the Civil Rights Movement without fear of their direct superiors. It also gave self-employed blacks a voice in the movement.

The goal of the SCLC was to plan and support nonviolent methods of desegregation in the South. In February of 1957, Martin Luther King Jr. was elected as the group’s president, and it was also run by a board of elected members. The SCLC was described “by one member as ‘a bunch of Baptist preachers,’ and by another as “a movement, not an organization.” (Fairclough, 2). The group was founded in response to the protest movements in Montgomery, Tallahassee, and Birmingham. It included primarily black ministers.

The March on Washington was one of the most notable events throughout the Civil Rights Movement. It was held in August of 1963 to advocate for civil and economic rights of blacks. The SCLC assisted in supporting the protests held and fought for new legislation to get rid of segregation. During this march, King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in which he painted a picture of what he hopes the Civil Rights Movement will result in.

In 1967, King gave a speech, “Where Do We Go from Here?” at the SCLC conference. In his speech, King called for the ethos of the group to be rebranded. According to Werner, King’s speech, “reinterpreted the trajectory of the SCLC’s accomplishments; articulated the ‘character’ of established SLC principles; and reconstituted the ‘dwelling place’ of the civil rights struggle.” (Werner, 110).


Works Cited:

Adam Fairclough. (1986). The Preachers and the People: The Origins and Early Years of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 1955-1959. The Journal of Southern History52(3), 403.

WERNER, J. B. (2017). Building a “Dwelling Place” for Justice: Ethos Reinvention in Martin Luther King Jr.’S “Where Do We Go from Here?” Rhetoric & Public Affairs20(1), 109–132.

Ewell Reagin. (1968). A Study of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Review of Religious Research9(2), 88.

Selma to Montgomery Marches

This post was written by Evan Matthews, but I goofed and added you all to my personal u.osu blog instead of the class one (oops), so I’m reposting for him here. -CT


The march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 was not simply one march, but a series of three marches, and after the third time, the people who were peacefully protesting the racism and injustices still occurring in our society finally made it to Montgomery. The first march took place on March 7th 1965 and ended the same day with the name “Bloody Sunday” given to it when an estimated 525-600 protesters left Selma on the way to Montgomery and were stopped by law enforcement and harassed, beat, which hospitalized seventeen people and injured over fifty others. The second march took place two days later on March 9th 1965, and was nicknamed “turnaround Tuesday” this being the first march led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. However, a restraining issue was ordered for 2500 people in the march to not stop the march from taking place until further hearings could be held regarding the situation at hand. Finally, on March 21st 1965 the masses were assembled and the march was allowed to take place, Dr. King and the protesters arrived in Montgomery three days later on the 24th with an estimated twenty-five thousand protesters.

It’s interesting how the Selma to Montgomery march took place in regards to the trials and tribulations the protesters went through. In Dr. King’s letter from his time while he was in Birmingham’s jail he explains a part that caught my attention. That part is the point in his letter where he explains why he chooses to use peaceful protesting as his way of showing the corrupt systems in place that something needs to change. He used these protests and direct action because they create tension and force the agitators to confront an issue that they refuse to negotiate on. Dr. King stated in his letter that the purpose of direct action is that “it will create such a crisis-packed situation that it will inevitably open the doors to further negotiation” (King,#2)  whether that be immediately, or further on down the line.


Citations: Editors. “Selma to Montgomery March.”, A&E Television Networks, 28 Jan. 2010,

“Selma to Montgomery March.” The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, 27 June 2018,

“1965 Selma to Montgomery March Fast Facts.” CNN, Cable News Network, 27 Feb. 2019,