Stanford University The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute
This Month In History
This Month in the Movement: The Little Rock Nine
In the early fall of 1957, the NAACP registered nine African American students to attend the previously all-white Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Their enrollment came three years after the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education declared segregation in public school illegal, and two years after the Little Rock school board unanimously approved a plan to integrate the city's schools.

Segregationist groups threatened to protest the integration as well as physically block the students from entering the school. On 4 September 1957, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus sided with the segregationists and deployed the Arkansas National Guard to Little Rock to prevent the nine students from attending the first day of class.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower held a meeting with Faubus during which he strongly discouraged further disobedience against the Supreme Court's ruling. Following the unsuccessful discussions, Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard and sent a division of the United States Army to Little Rock on 24 September. With an Army escort, the nine students entered the school and began classes at the end of September.

The Little Rock Nine faced continued harassment throughout their respective tenures at Little Rock Central High School, and in the summer of 1958, Governor Faubus closed the city's public high schools with a plan to lease the buildings out to become segregated private schools. His plan did not materialize, but resulted in a year of closed schools. In 1959, the school board reopened the city's high schools and began classes on 12 August 1959. That year, Ernest Green became the first African American student to graduate from Central High School.

To read more about the Little Rock School Desegregation, visit our website here.
This Month in the Movement: The Voting Rights Act of 1965
On 6 August 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. The bill was introduced in March of 1965, and provided greater enforcement of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to overcome discriminatory voting practices in the South.

Despite the gains in human rights achieved through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, President Johnson recognized the Act's shortcomings in protecting voting rights, and quickly began advocating for a new bill to address the issue. In January 1965, King and SCLC joined with several other civil rights organizations to implement a direct action campaign in Selma, Alabama aimed at securing voting rights.

The demonstrations were met with increasingly violent police resistance that prompted organizers to lead a protest march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama on 7 March 1965. The marchers were stopped by police outside of Selma where they were assaulted with tear gas and beaten with clubs. National coverage of the incident focused national attention on the issue of voting rights in the South, and spurred a larger march to Montgomery two days later.

Following the 7 March attack, Johnson renewed his campaign for a voting rights act, and the initial bill was introduced on 17 March 1965. The bill passed the Senate with a 77-19 vote and cleared the House of Representatives by a 333-85 vote. After a committee reconciled changes to the bill from the Senate and House, Johnson signed the bill into law. The signing was attended by King and other civil rights leaders.

For more on the Voting Rights Act of 1965, please visit the King Encyclopedia here.

To read more about the Selma to Montgomery March, click here.
This Month in the Movement: The Civil Rights Act of 1964
The landmark civil rights legislation signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on 2 July 1964 was the culmination of years of struggle and advocacy between movement organizations, students, and the Kennedy Administration.

Though it was the Kennedy Administration's sympathetic ear that provided momentum for federal action in 1963, congress had precedent to pull from with the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first legislation addressing the rights of African Americans since Reconstruction. The Act of 1957 established the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department and the U.S. Civil Rights Commission for investigative purposes. However, the Act fell short of being comprehensive and ignited a prolonged campaign for further legislation by various civil rights organizations and individuals such as A. Philip Randolph and Martin Luther King, Jr.

By 1963 racial strife mounted in plain view of both the national and international consciousness. President John F. Kennedy revealed his intention to pursue legislative action in his civil rights speech of 11 June 1963, following the notable Birmingham campaign in which students and children endured attacks by police dogs and high pressure fire hoses. Calling for comprehensive legislation the president argued that "this nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free." The Administration was under relentless pressure from civil rights organizations and King, who in an article published after the March on Washington reiterated that African Americans would not be content with tokenism.

King's advocacy was unwavering following Kennedy's assassination in November of 1963, he pressed President Johnson to continue Kennedy's civil rights legacy arguing the human dignity of African Americans would not be denied.

Though ensnared by a filibuster from southern senators, the bill finally passed and was signed into law on 2 July 1964 with King and other civil rights leaders present for its historical enactment. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin; and ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in public accommodations. For more on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 please visit our encyclopedia entry here.
This Month in the Movement: The Children’s Crusade
In early April 1963, civil rights leaders converged on Birmingham, Alabama and initiated the Birmingham Campaign. The campaign's organizers intended to coordinate a sustained, direct action protest targeting institutionalized racism in the city. After a month of protests, however, mass arrests and oppressive tactics by local police cut the momentum of the campaign.

Well aware that the demonstrations were losing critical national attention, campaign organizers, including King, sought a new tactic to reignite the protests and refocus the national spotlight on Birmingham. During deliberations, James Bevel suggested permitting schoolchildren to conduct demonstrations. After agreement from the other leaders, the Children's Crusade commenced.

On May 2, over one thousand children skipped school to participate in a march from Sixth Street Baptist Church to Birmingham's downtown. Before they reached their destination, Birmingham police arrested the children en masse. The following day, several hundred students began another march. Police commissioner Bull Conner gave the order to break up the demonstration with force, and local police and firefighters set upon the children with clubs, fire hoses, and dogs.

Photographs of the police brutality grabbed media attention and brought national condemnation upon Birmingham officials. The United States Department of Justice quickly intervened, and on May 10 the Southern Christian Leadership Conference ended the Birmingham Campaign when an agreement was reached to desegregate Birmingham's stores and release the jailed protestors.

To read more about the Children's Crusade, visit the King Encyclopedia here.

To learn more about the Birmingham Campaign, click here.
This Month in the Movement: Fiftieth Anniversary of the March on Frankfort
On 5 March 1964 Martin Luther King Jr. along with Kentucky civil rights leaders, led a 10,000-person march up Capitol Avenue in Frankfort, Kentucky towards the Kentucky capitol. The marchers were urging for the passage of a public accommodations bill that had been introduced in January to the Kentucky House of Representatives. The bill, much like the one that was proposed by President Kennedy a year earlier, would end segregation in Kentucky in the area of public accommodations such as retail stores, restaurants and educational institutions.

The march was coordinated by members of the Allied Organization for Civil Rights (AOCR); Frank Stanley, Jr., editor of The Louisville Defender; Olof Anderson, Synod Executive of the Presbyterian Church; and Georgia Davis Powers, who later became the first African American and the first woman to be elected to the Kentucky State Senate in 1967. Many national prominent figures were also in attendance, including Ralph Abernathy, Jackie Robinson and the folk singers Peter, Paul and Mary. When the mass of people arrived at the capitol they sang songs and many people gave speeches, including King.

Later that day march organizers and civil rights leaders met with Kentucky Governor Edward T. Breathitt to discuss the bill. He assured them that he would work very hard to have the civil rights bill passed, but warned them that he was new to office and was not sure how much power and respect he had. Despite the efforts of Governor Breathitt and civil rights leader, the bill was not passed in in 1964. The march became a catalyst for a future bill that would be passed in 1966. On 27 January 1966 Governor Breathitt signed the Kentucky Civil Rights bill, making Kentucky the first state south of the Mason-Dixon line to have a state Civil Rights Act.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Frankfort.

Explore the links below and discover photographs, oral history interviews and more information related to the March on Frankfort:

1. University of Louisville Libraries Blog

2. Kentucky Historical Society Oral History Project Governor Breathitt speaks about the first time he met King and his thoughts on the march.

3.Georgia Davis Powers speaks on the March on Frankfort
Celebrating Black History Month: Little Rock School Desegregation
On 4 September 1957, nine black students attempted to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The "Little Rock Nine" were met by an angry white mob and the Arkansas National Guard, who had been sent by Governor Orval Faubus to stop the students from accomplishing their objective. The story quickly became national news and Central High became a symbol for resistance to integration.

The courageous actions of the students came three years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Brown v. Board of Education that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. The unsuccessful attempt by the students to integrate Central High on 4 September precipitated NAACP lawyers filing a federal court injunction to prevent the governor from blocking the students' entry. The lawyers won the injunction and on 23 September 1957, with the help of police escorts, the students successfully entered the school through a side entrance. The mob violence outside did not cease and continued to escalate as the hours passed, so soon after the students had entered they were rushed home out of fear for their safety.

Throughout the situation King supported the students and was an advocate for them. King explained to President Eisenhower in a telegram that the government must stand against the injustice occurring at Central High. As the story of the students struggle gained more attention, Eisenhower realized that the incident was becoming an international embarrassment. Eisenhower ordered troops from the Army's 101st Airborne Division and the Arkansas National Guard to protect the students for the remainder of the school year.

At the end of the year, Ernest Green, one of the "Little Rock Nine," became the first African American to graduate from Central High School. Before schools opened in the fall of 1958, Governor Faubus closed all four of Little Rock's public schools rather than proceeding with desegregation, but a December 1959 Supreme Court ruling that the school board must reopen the schools and resume the process of desegregating the city schools spoiled his efforts.

To read more about the Little Rock School Desegregation, visit the entry in the King Encyclopedia here.
Celebrating Black History Month: Andrew Young
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1932, Andrew Young has devoted his life to protecting and expanding human rights. His career has included stints as mayor of Atlanta, Representative from Georgia's 5th district, and ambassador to the United Nations. Throughout his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement he remained one of Dr. King's most trusted advisors.

In 1960, Young accepted an administrative position at the Citizenship Education Program (CEP) of Highlander Folk School in Tennessee. When the scool closed the following year, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) assumed responsibility for the program, and Young moved to Atlanta to direct the CEP from SCLC headquarters.

King promoted Young to executive director of SCLC in 1964, and Young proved integral in the planning and implementation of direct action campaigns in St. Augustine, Florida; Selma, Alabama; and Chicago.

Young left SCLC in 1970 to run for Congress, making a successful bid in 1972. He remained in Congress until President Carter appointed him ambassador to the United Nations. Following his time with the United Nations, Young served as mayor of Atlanta for eight years.

To read more about Andrew Young, visit his entry in the King Encyclopedia here.
Celebrating Black History Month: Julian Bond
Horace Julian Bond's dedication to the civil rights movement has been a steady and continuous influence since the 1960s. Representing the movement as a student activist, as Chairman Emeritus of the NAACP, as a former congressman and member of the Georgia House of Representatives, and as a university professor, Bond's integrity and determination have been integral to the longevity of the movement's legacy.

Julian was born in Tennessee in 1940 to Horace Mann Bond, the first African-American president of Lincoln University. Though a Morehouse man, Bond's political awakening began during the sit-in movement of 1960 in Greensboro, North Carolina, and came into full fruition as he took part in the creation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Raleigh, North Carolina. Shortly after its formation, Bond was hired as SNCC's communications director.

The evolution of Bond's movement ideology took further shape as a student in a Morehouse philosophy course co-taught by Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dr. Samuel Williams in the Autumn of 1961. After taking the course, Bond dropped out of Morehouse to work full time for SNCC and the movement. The mutual respect between Bond and King grew and in the mid 1960's King was co-plaintiff in Bond's appeal to the United States Supreme Court for his rightfully elected seat with the Georgia House of Representatives, which was stripped from him do to his anti-Vietnam War views. From 1965 to 1986 he served in the Georgia House and six terms in the Georgia Senate.

Bond continues to actively disseminate the legacy of the movement through published writings and lectures. For more on Julian Bond please visit our encyclopedia entry here. You may also visit this NAACP page here.
Celebrating Black History Month: Mahalia Jackson
Known as the "Queen of Gospel," Mahalia Jackson hoped that her music would “break down some of the hate and fear that divide the white and black people in this country” (Whitman, “Mahalia Jackson”).

Born in New Orleans in 1911, Jackson was raised in a devout Baptist family and grew up singing in choirs. At the age of sixteen, she moved to Chicago and continued to sing in storefront churches and toured with a gospel quintet. By the time Ralph Abernathy and King met Jackson in 1956 at the National Baptist Convention, she had already sold eight million copies of her album, become an international celebrity, performed sold-out shows at Carnegie Hall and hosted her own radio and television shows in Chicago. Her inspiring voice and passion made her the perfect person for King to ask to perform in Montgomery for the foot soldiers of the newly successful bus boycott. After her performance, she continued to appear with King, singing before his speeches and for Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) fundraisers.

On 28 August 1963 at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, before King took the podium to give his speech, Jackson performed “I Been ‘Buked and I Been Scorned.” King later wrote, “When I got up to speak, I was already happy. I couldn’t help preaching. Millions of people all over this country have said it was my greatest hour. I do not know, but if it was, you, more than any single person helped to make it so” (King, 10 January 1964).

To read more about Mahalia Jackson and how she honored King after his assassination, visit her page in the King Encyclopedia here.
Celebrating Black History Month: Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall was an attorney and Supreme Court justice who dedicated his career to the pursuit of social justice and equality.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Marshall attended Howard University Law School. After graduating in 1933, he took a position in the national office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) before assuming the directorship of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in 1940.

Marshall successfully argued numerous court cases challenging segregation, including the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case, which deemed the concept of "separate but equal" unconstitutional. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. He served as solicitor general from 1965 to 1967, when he was confirmed to the Supreme Court as the country's first African American Supreme Court justice.

To read more about Thurgood Marshall, visit his page in the King Encyclopedia here.
Celebrating Black History Month: The Children’s Crusade
One of the more contentious tactical decisions of the movement, the enlistment of Birmingham's children and students in a series of marches on 2 May-3 May 1963 jolted national awareness and brought the volatility of racism and discrimination in the South to the fore-front of national and international attention.

James Bevel of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference suggested the use of the youth to reinvigorate the ebb of the Birmingham Campaign, arguing they had less to lose than adults who were reluctant to participate in demonstrations for fear of losing their jobs. Though Martin Luther king, Jr. was at first skeptical of the idea, the press coverage of "Bull" Connor's police dogs and fire hoses being used against defenseless children spurred national conversation, and eventually helped lead to the Civil Rights legislation of 1964.

For more on the Children's Crusade please read our encyclopedia entry here.

For some personal recollections of the Campaign please see here.
Celebrating Black History Month: Daisy Bates
Daisy Lee Gaston Bates was an outspoken civil rights advocate who was willing to suffer the consequences of any actions she took in order to oppose the discrimination that was occurring during the civil rights movement. In the fall of 1957, Bates's physical safety was threatened when she, along with black student volunteers she had advised, tried to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Growing up in a small town in Arkansas, Bates's aversion to discrimination began at am early age, recalling in her autobiography, The Long Shadow of Little Rock, an incident when a local butcher informed her that she would need to wait until he had served all of the white patrons before he would accommodate her (Bates, 8). At the age of fifteen she met her future husband and they founded the Arkansas State Press. She was able to use this platform as a way to share her ideas about ways to improve the social and economic conditions of blacks throughout Arkansas. In 1952, she assumed the position of president of the Arkansas chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which gave her the opportunity to work with and advise the black students who had volunteered to desegregate Central High School.

King reached out to Bates many times during the Little Rock crisis, reassuring her that she had a large amount of support and that she was,"a woman whom everyone KNOWS has been, and still is in the thick of the battle from the very beginning, never faltering, never tiring." In May 1958 King stayed with the Bates when he spoke at the Arkansas AM&N College commencement, and soon afterward invited her to be the Women’s Day speaker at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church later that year in October. During the same year, Bates was elected to the executive committee of King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Bates was the only woman to speak at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

To learn more about the Daisy Bates, visit the King Encyclopedia here.
Celebrating Black History Month: Albany Movement
In October 1961, two members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) traveled to Albany, Georgia to organize support for nonviolent demonstrations against institutionalized segregation in the city. The following month, representatives from SNCC and several other civil rights groups formed the Albany Movement to coordinate a broader, sustained campaign.

Albany police chief Laurie Pritchett responded to the demonstrations with mass arrests and without public brutality. These arrests depleted the number of demonstrators and dampened the momentum of the movement. In December, Albany Movement president, W. G. Anderson, contacted King. Anderson invited King to Albany in hopes that King's presence and the organizational experience of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) would rejuvenate the movement.

Throughout his involvement in the Albany Movement, King was arrested three times. Despite the publicity from these arrests, along with the continued mass arrests of hundreds of demonstrators, Albany city officials refused to negotiate. King effectively ended his involvement in Albany in August 1962, with the primary objectives of the movement still unmet. The lessons learned in Albany helped shape the planning of future civil rights campaigns. King later recalled that "what we learned from our mistakes in Albany helped our later campaigns in other cities to be more effective."

To learn more about the Albany Movement, visit the King Encyclopedia here.
Celebrating Black History Month: The Freedom Rides
In the summer of 1961 students from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) initiated a protest against segregation on interstate highway buses, terminals and facilities. Traveling from Washington D.C. to Jackson, Mississippi, groups of interracial students were confronted with mob violence, terrorism and brutality spawning national attention and forcing federal intervention from the Kennedy Administration.

Harnessing the media, the freedom riders were able to use the press to reveal the realities of racial injustice still institutionalized in inter-state travel. Unlike the Freedom Rides initially conducted by CORE and the Fellowship of Reconciliation in 1947, the students in 1961 were able to engage and capture national and international attention, forcing the hand of the Kennedy Administration and securing an Interstate Commerce Commission ban on segregation in all facilities under their jurisdiction. Though King supported the riders he himself did not participate in any of the rides; the presence of the student movement took a more apparent hold within the struggle. For more on the Freedom Rides of 1961 please visit our encyclopedia entry here
Celebrating Black History Month: Highlander Folk School
Highlander Folk School, situated in the Tennessee hills from 1932 to 1961, was one of the few places in the South where integrated meetings could take place.

In 1932, Myles Horton founded the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee, which focused on labor and adult education. By the 1950s, the focus of the school had shifted to grassroots education, social justice and race relations. Many southern civil rights activists participated in leadership training at the school, including Marion Barry, Diane Nash, James Bevel and Rosa Parks, who attended a 1955 workshop at Highlander four months before refusing to give up her bus seat, an act which ignited the Montgomery bus boycott. Highlander also developed a citizenship program that taught African Americans their rights as citizens while promoting basic literacy skills. In 1957, King joined the staff during their 25th anniversary celebration and praised Highlander for its “noble purpose and creative work,” and for its contribution to the South of “some of its most responsible leaders in this great period of transition”.

The school was closed in 1961 when the Tennessee government revoked its charter on falsified charges that the school was being run for profit and that it did not fulfill its nonprofit requirements. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) felt that the citizenship program filled an important void and chose to take over the program that same year. Under the leadership of SCLC and the supervision of Septima P. Clark, Dorothy Cotton, and Andrew Young, the schools eventually trained approximately 100,000 adults.

In August 1961 Horton opened another school in Knoxville, Tennessee called the Highlander Research and Education Center.

To read more about Highlander Folk School and to discover how a photo of King at Highlander's 25th anniversary was used as propaganda against him, visit this King Encyclopedia entry here.
Celebrating Black History Month: John Lewis
Raised on a farm new Troy, Alabama, John Lewis became involved in the Civil Rights Movement at an early age and has continued to fight for social justice throughout his life.

Following his involvement in the Nashville sit-ins in early 1960, Lewis attended a meeting of student activists that April which resulted in the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The following year, Lewis participated in the Freedom Rides and was elected to the board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1962. His leadership in the movement was further demonstrated when he delivered one of the keynote addresses at the March on Washington in 1963.

Lewis continued to lead civil rights campaigns through the 1960s and 1970s, including an appointment by President Jimmy Carter in 1977 to direct ACTION, a federal volunteer agency. In 1986, Lewis was elected to Congress as a Representative from Georgia's 5th district, an office he still holds.

To read more about John Lewis, visit his King Encyclopedia entry here.
Celebrating Black History Month: Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King was a pillar of support not only for her husband, but the fabric of her family relied on her steadfast love and courage. Her devotion and sacrifice though perhaps behind the scenes of the freedom struggle, was critical to King's strength for the duration of the movement.

Born 27 April 1927 near Marion, Alabama, Coretta found her first passion in the pursuit of music. Coretta and King were married in 1953 and though her life was attenuated to the role of a minister's wife and activist, she earned her B.A. in music in 1954. In the last decades of her life her direct activism found renewed voice through the protest of Apartheid in South Africa, the organization of a commemorative March on Washington in 1983, and the advocation for a national holiday in honor of her husband. Coretta's commitment to the dissemination of King's legacy and the movement continues to inform history even after her death through the establishment of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta and the Martin Luther King Papers Project here at Stanford. For more on Coretta Scott King click here
In Honor of Black History Month: Septima Poinsette Clark “the Mother of the Movement”
By the time Septima P. Clark Accepted her position as Director of Education and Training for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, she had already spent more than forty years becoming a leader in grassroots education and social justice.

Upon graduating secondary school and passing the teacher's exam in 1916, age the age of eighteen, Clark began teaching at a black school in South Carolina. During her career, she used summer breaks as times to continue her education. In 1937, Clark studied under W. E. B. Du Bois at Atlanta University before eventually earning her BA (1942) from Benedict College in Columbia, and her MA (1946) from Virginia’s Hampton Institute. She also participated in a class action lawsuit filed by the NAACP (National Council for the Advancement of Colored People) that led to pay equity for black and white teachers in South Carolina. In 1956, after Clark refused to resign from NAACP, her teaching contract was terminated. She was immediately hired by a grassroots education center where she has taught workshops during the summers. Rosa Parks even participated in one of her workshops just months before she helped launch the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

When the state of Tennessee forced the grassroots education center to close in 1961, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) established the Citizenship Education Program (CEP), modeled on Clark’s citizenship workshops. Shortly after, Clark began working for the SCLC conducting teacher training and developing curricula. A year after Clark retired in 1970,the governor of South Carolina reinstated her teacher’s pension after declaring that she had been unjustly terminated in 1956. She was given a Living Legacy Award by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 and published her second memoir, Ready from Within, in 1986.

To read more about Septima Poinsette Clark, check out her entry in the King Encyclopedia here
Celebrating Black History Month: Fred L. Shuttlesworth
Fred L. Shuttlesworth was a strong proponent of nonviolent direct action who provided vocal leadership to the Civil Rights Movement and helped spur the planning and success of the Birmingham Movement.

Shuttlesworth moved to Birmingham in 1953 to serve as minister of Bethel Baptist Church, and in 1955 joined the local chapter of the NAACP. The following year, circuit judge Walter B. Jones banned the NAACP from any activity in the state of Alabama. In response, Shuttlesworth co-founded the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMRH) and promptly began organizing nonviolent demonstrations against the institutionalized racism in Birmingham.

Following encouragement from Shuttlesworth to bring an organized protest campaign to Birmingham, leaders from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) met with ACMHR in 1963 and mapped out a strategy for what would become the Birmingham Campaign. Shuttlesworth released the "Birmingham Manifesto" explaining the decision to protest, and on 6 April 1963 he led the campaign's first march.

Throughout his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, Shuttlesworth led by example and repeatedly put his life on the line for the sake of the nonviolent movement. He survived numerous attempts on his life and continued to fight for equality and social justice for the rest of his life. In 2008 the airport in Birmingham was renamed in his honor.

To read more about Fred L. Shuttlesworth, check out his entry in the King Encyclopedia here
Celebrating Black History Month: Ella Baker
Ella Josephine Baker, an unsung hero of the civil rights movement, was a spark whose talent was the ability to unlock the power within the individual to strengthen their community and encourage lasting change.

Born 13 December 1903 in Norfolk, Virginia and raised on the land in which her grandparents were enslaved, Baker's passion for social justice galvanized at an early age. She challenged the tradition of top-down leadership that defined King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and felt that sustained and cohesive social justice could only be obtained through grass-roots mobilization. Ella worked with the NAACP in New York and was influential in the organization of the Crusade for Citizenship program of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. However, after the 1960 Greensboro, North Carolina sit-in movement she left SCLC to advise the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee whose ethos she identified more closely with. Ella remained an active civil rights organizer until her death in 1986. For more on Ella Baker visit the King Institute's Encyclopedia here.
Celebrating Black History Month: The Civil Rights Act of 1964
On 11 June 1963, President John F. Kennedy, upon announcing his plans for pursuing a civil rights bill in Congress, stated, "this nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free." Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, civil rights leaders had continued to press major political parties about the passage of more civil rights legislation. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 had established committees to investigate claims of racial discrimination, but an important provision in the bill that would have enforced the Brown v. Board of Education decision was removed, which allowed for the continuation of segregation.

On 19 June 1963 Kennedy introduced the civil rights legislation to Congress. Following Kennedy's assassination in November 1963, both King and the newly inaugurated President Lyndon B. Johnson still pressed for the passage of the bill. The bill official passed the House of Representatives in mid-February 1964, making this month the fiftieth anniversary. Once in the Senate, the bill was delayed from progressing due to a filibuster that lasted 75 days. Finally, on 2 July 1962, Johnson signed the new Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law with King and other civil rights leaders present.

To learn more about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 visit the King Encyclopedia here.
Celebrating Black History Month: Rosa Parks
4 February marks the birthday of Rosa Parks, whose refusal to surrender her seat on a public bus to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

On 1 December 1955, Parks boarded a city bus for her commute home and took a seat in the section designated for African American passengers. As the bus continued to fill up with passengers along its route, the driver moved the sign dictating the line of segregation back several rows to provide more seats for white passengers and told Parks to give up her seat. Parks refused, and was promptly arrested.

That evening, the local chapter of the NAACP began planning for a boycott of Montgomery's city buses. On 5 December 1955, the day of Parks's trial, the African American community of Montgomery staged a city-wide bus boycott in protest of her arrest. The success of the boycott prompted organizers to push for its extension to what would become the 13-month Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Throughout the boycott, Parks found herself the target of persistent discrimination. Both she and her husband were fired from their jobs, and eventually moved to Detroit, Michigan to pursue broader job prospects. In Detroit, she was hired as a secretary in the office of U.S. Representative John Conyers, where she continued to work until her retirement. In 1996, Parks was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

For more on Rosa Parks, visit her entry in the King Encyclopedia here. Click here to visit the website of the Rosa & Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development.
Celebrating Black History Month: Bayard Rustin
Bayard Rustin's influence upon the civil rights movement was pervasive and yet subtle due to the continual overshadowing of his imprint by his homosexuality. Born in 1912 and raised in West Chester Pennsylvania, Rustin became a close advisor to King during the Montgomery bus boycott, and was essential to the development of King's nonviolent philosophy. Bayard played an active role in the creation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and was pivotal in the organization of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. Though his alleged ties to communism and his homosexuality created an atmosphere of controversy and hindered his ties to King, Bayard continued to dedicate his life to the freedom movement until his death in 1987. To learn more about Rustin's role in the civil rights movement follow the link to our encyclopedia page here.

On 20 November 2013 President Barack Obama presented Bayard with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of his life-long dedication to equality and human rights. For more on this please visit here.
This Month in the Movement: Time’s Man of the Year, 1963
Following an intense year for the civil rights movement in general, and Dr. King in particular, he became the first African American to be named Time’s “Man of the Year.”

Time’s tribute to King included a photograph of the civil rights leader on the magazine’s cover, along with a seven-page feature that included pictures of King during some of the most memorable moments of his civil rights career, including a meeting with President Lyndon B. Johnson and King’s arrest in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. King received many congratulatory telegrams, notably from Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; and Nelson A. Rockefeller, governor of New York.

Although many of King’s supporters celebrated the tribute, King was privately incensed by some of the comments in the story. His clothing style was described as “funeral conservatism,” and he was said to have “very little sense of humor.” King, who had garnered considerable fame from his speeches and oratorical skills, was criticized for his use of metaphors, which the author called “downright embarrassing.”

To those outside his inner circle, King said he was pleased to receive the honor. In a 27 February 1964 letter to Homer Jack, executive director of the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, he maintained that it was not just a personal honor but a tribute bestowed upon the entire civil rights movement. “The fact that Time took such cognizance of the social revolution in which we are engaged is an indication that the conscience of America has been reached and that the old order which has embraced bigotry and discrimination must now yield to what we know to be right and just,” King wrote. In a letter to Time founder Henry R. Luce, King thanked him for the honor and commended the magazine for its inclusion of other professional African Americans. “This image of the Negro is certainly one that many of us like to see carried in the pages of our national periodicals,” King wrote. “For it does much to help grind away the granite-like notions that have obtained for so long that the Negro is not able to take his place in all fields of endeavor and that he is lazy, shiftless and without ambition.”

Highlights from 1963, personally and professionally include:

The publication of King’s book of sermons, Strength to Love

Birth of daughter Bernice Albertine

The Birmingham Campaign and tragic bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church

The publication of King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

The historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where King delivered the infamous, “I Have a Dream” speech

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy
This Month in the Movement: John F. Kennedy wins presidential election
On 8 November 1960, John F. Kennedy won the presidential election over Richard Nixon. Although King remained publicly neutral throughout the campaign, declining to endorse either candidate, the developing relationship between him and Kennedy was apparent even before the final count.

Less than three weeks before the election, King was arrested while participating in a sit-in demonstration with a group of students at Rich's department store. The sit-in was part of a coordinated series of demonstrations against segregated institutions and facilities throughout the Atlanta, and King's involvement landed him in the state prison in Reidsville, Georgia.

King's imprisonment drew national attention and after five days in jail, presidential candidate and then-Senator Kennedy placed a call to Coretta Scott King voicing his sympathy and support for Dr. King. Simultaneously, Robert F. Kennedy placed calls to officials in Georgia, including the judge overseeing the trial, seeking to hasten King's release.

The outpouring of support for King succeeded in facilitating his release on 27 October 1960. Upon learning of Senator Kennedy's call, King affirmed his public neutrality but voiced his gratitude for the Senator's actions, stating "I hope that this example of Senator Kennedy's courage will be a lesson deeply learned." The call also touched Martin Luther King, Sr., who had previously voiced his reservations about Kennedy's Catholic faith. In light of Kennedy's involvement, King, Sr. spoke out in support of the Senator's candidacy.

Despite King's reticence to pitch his support, Kennedy's actions were viewed favorably by African American voters and civil rights supporters. Early in the election, many felt that neither candidate had a demonstrated track record on civil rights. Kennedy's phone call help sway support, and in an election that was determined by a difference of less than one percent of the popular vote, likely contributed to his victory.

To read more about President Kennedy and his relationship with Dr. King, please visit his entry in the King Online Encyclopedia here.

To read primary documents about King and the 1960 presidential election, check out Volume V of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. here and here.
This Month in the Movement: Youth March for Integrated Schools (25 October 1958 and 18 April 1959)
In 1958 and 1959, Martin Luther King, Jr., served as an honorary chairman of two youth marches for integrated schools, large demonstrations that took place in Washington, D.C., aimed at expressing support for the elimination of school segregation from American public schools.

On the day of the 1958 march, an integrated crowd of 10,000 marched down Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C., to the Lincoln Memorial. There, Coretta Scott King delivered a speech on behalf of her husband, who was recovering from being stabbed by Izola Curry while in New York. Although King could not attend the march, he was enthusiastic about its possibilities, saying that ‘‘such a project will do much to give courage, support, and encouragement to our [beleaguered] children and adults in the south.

To read more about the marches, visit the King Online Encyclopdeia, here.

To read a transcript of the speech Mrs. King delivered on behalf of her husband, visit our website, here.
This Month in the Movement: Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing
On 15 September 1963, members of the Ku Klux Klan bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, during Sunday morning services. The blast killed four young girls--Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Denise McNair--and wounded many more. The tragedy occurred in the wake of the highly publicized Birmingham Campaign and further intensified national and global scrutiny on racism in the South.

In the decades preceding the tragedy at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Birmingham had seen a plague of racially motivated bombings, earning in the process the nickname "Bombingham." Earlier in September, the home of Arthur Shores, a local African American lawyer, had been bombed in a neighborhood known as "Dynamite Hill" because it had experienced nearly a bombing a year for over a decade.

As one of the most prominent churches in Birmingham's African American community, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church served as a rallying point for demonstrations, meetings, and voter registration efforts throughout he civil rights period. On the morning of 15 September 1963, the young members of the church were in the basement preparing for the "Youth Sunday" service when a bomb placed under the steps of the church by Robert Chambliss detonated.

Following the bombing, citizens took to the street to protest the ever-present threat of violence in the city. During the ensuing demonstrations, two more youths were killed, one by police for failing to yield to their commands, and another was shot while riding bicycles with his brother.

Public outrage at the bombing quickly spread throughout the country. On 15 September, Martin Luther King, Jr. wired President John F. Kennedy urging for civil rights legislation, stating "Investigation will not suffice. The nation and Birmingham needs your commitment to use everything within your constitutional power to enforce the desegregation orders of the courts." The following year, on 2 July 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. President Kennedy had introduced the legislation the previous year, but was assassinated before he could see it passed.

To read more about the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, visit its historic site listing with the National Park Service here.

To listen to audio and read a transcript of the eulogy King delivered at the memorial service for three of the girls killed in the bombing, visit our website here.
This Month in the Movement: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
Fifty years ago this month, on 28 August 1963, over 200,000 demonstrators gathered at the National Mall for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Drawing inspiration from a march planned in 1941 by A. Philip Randolph and the May 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, the organizers of the March on Washington sought to realize the goals of the earlier marches and further advocate for social and economic justice.

The list of sponsoring organizations included a broad array of civil rights, religious, and labor groups. In advance of the march, the leaders notified President John F. Kennedy of their intentions and released a list of specific objectives including a comprehensive civil rights bill, advancements in voter rights, and school desegregation, among others.

Following a list of notable speakers, including Bayard Rustin, Roy Wilkins, and John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Jr., capped the day's speeches with his "I Have a Dream Speech." King and his closest advisors, including Clarence Jones, stayed up most of the previous night working on the speech. The finished draft, titled "Normalcy - Never Again," did not contain reference to King's "dream," but upon seeing the ethusiastic reaction of the crowd, King departed from the prepared script. Many of his recent speeches had focused on the idea of "making the American Dream a reality," and he worked the theme into his delivery of the speech to great effect.

Following the march, the organizers met with President Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson to discuss the need for federal civil rights legislation.

To read more about the March on Washington, visit the King Online Encyclopedia. To read more about King's I Have a Dream speech, click here.
This Month in the Movement: The Civil Rights Act of 1964
On 2 July 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. The act was the realization of plans for a wide-reaching civil rights bill first announced by President John F. Kennedy on 11 June 1963. The bill, designed to eliminate segregation in public facilities, protect every citizen's right to vote, and expand on the gains made in earlier civil rights acts, encountered a mix of support and staunch opposition upon entering Congress.

The House Judiciary Committee received the bill first and, after a series of hearings, strengthened several aspects of it. Among its revisions, the committee added a provision granting authority for the Justice Department to initiate litigation in instances where it felt civil rights were being denied. Following its approval by the House Judiciary Committee the bill went to the House Rules Committee, where it encountered heavy opposition led by Representative Howard Smith.

Despite the objections of the Rules Committee the bill cleared the House and overcame a filibuster in the Senate, due in large part to constant pressure from President Johnson. In the company of numerous civil rights leaders, Johnson signed the bill into law a few hours after it received Congressional approval.

To read more about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, visit the King Online Encyclopedia here. To view the document, click here.
This Month in the Movement: The Stand in the Schoolhouse Door
On 11 June 1963, Alabama Governor George Wallace stood in the doorway of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama to block integration of the university. The Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 deemed segregated public schools unconstitutional, but authorities at the University of Alabama had continued to deter African American applicants through disqualification or intimidation.

In 1963, three African American students, James Hood, Vivian Malone Jones, and Dave McGlathery, applied to the university. On 16 May 1963, a federal court ordered that the university admit the students. Wallace, who in his inaugural address earlier that year had promised "Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!" demonstrated his objection to the ruling by standing in the doorway to deny entry to the three students.

When Wallace refused to yield to Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard and ordered Wallace's removal. Wallace obeyed and Jones and Hood then entered and successfully enrolled at the university. McGlathery enrolled the following day without incident.

To read more about former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katzenbach, check out his encyclopedia entry here or click here to read his obituary.

To read more about George Wallace, visit his entry in the King Online Encyclopedia here.
This Month in the Movement: The Freedom Rides
On 4 May 1961, an integrated group of thirteen members of the Congress of Racial Equality departed Washington D.C. by bus to challenge the enforcement of anti-segregation laws in interstate travel throughout the South. Although the initial ride was cut short by mob violence in Birmingham, Alabama, additional volunteers stepped forward and the rides continued as planned, under student leadership.

The violence that met the freedom riders brought national attention to institutionalized segregation in the South and pressured the Kennedy Administration into sending federal marshals to the South to protect the riders. Under direction from the Kennedy Administration, the Interstate Commerce Commission banned segregation in all facilities under its jurisdiction. The ban took effect on 1 November 1961.

To read more about the Freedom Rides, visit the Online King Encyclopedia entries for the Freedom Rides, James Farmer, and Diane Nash.
This Month in the Movement: Fiftieth Anniversary of the Letter from Birmingham Jail
This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of one of Dr. King’s most celebrated and studied epistles, the Letter from Birmingham Jail. Released on 16 April 1963, King composed the letter from his prison cell in Birmingham, Ala. in response to local white religious leader’s criticisms at the height of the 1963 Birmingham Campaign.

For more information on the letter and events surrounding its publication, make sure to visit the following resources:

Letter from Birmingham Jail, text

Letter from Birmingham Jail, King Online Encyclopedia entry

Birmingham Campaign (1963), King Online Encyclopedia entry

Children’s Crusade, King Online Encyclopedia entry
This Month in the Movement: March 1961
On March 7, 1961, Atlanta business leaders seeking to stem a wave of direct action protests agreed to desegregate the lunch counters of major department stores downtown. Two months earlier students had initiated a new round of sit-ins and promised to continue them until the stores were desegregated, a tactic that King had endorsed.

Click here to read more.

Also, for more information surrounding these events, be sure to check out the following resources:

King Encyclopedia entry on sit-ins

King's statement to student activists on direct action techniques
Celebrating Black History Month: Diane Nash
Born in Chicago in 1938, Diane Nash's first immersive experience into the Jim Crow South took place when she transferred to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee after her first year at Howard University. Outraged by the institutional racism she experienced there, Nash enrolled in workshops on nonviolent resistence led by James Lawson.

In 1960, Nash participated in the organized sit-in demonstrations that took place in Nashville in conjunction with similar protests across the South. During the sit-ins, Nash's displayed an unerring determination and an intrinsic leadership ability that quickly made her one of the most prominent figures in the emerging student movement.

Nash took a critical role in the Freedom Rides during which she coordinated the continuation of student involvement in the demonstrations. Having attended the founding meeting of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960, Nash's poise and leadership during the Freedom Rides earned her the head position of the SNCC's direct action campaigns in 1961.

To read more about Diane Nash, visit her King Encyclopedia page here.

To learn more about the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, click here.
Celebrating Black History Month: President Kennedy Proposes Civil Rights Reforms to Congress
On February 28, 1963, President John F. Kennedy delivered a special message to Congress in which he laid out his agenda for civil rights reform. In his address, he specifically asked Congress to pass legislation that would strengthen earlier civil rights laws passed in 1957 and 1960 by providing stricter federal standards and stronger enforcement measures.

Congress did not immediately heed Kennedy's message, but just three months later, Martin Luther King, Jr. and other movement leaders brought civil rights back to the forefront with the Birmingham Campaign. During these events, police brutality against peaceful protestors resulted in a backlash against segregationist forces and helped to turn the tide of the civil rights movement. Afterwards, King and other leaders planned the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom to prod the federal government into taking action on civil rights.

On June 19, 1963, Kennedy's proposed legislation was formally introduced in Congress, but it failed to gain substantial traction. Only after Kennedy's assassination in November 1963 and President Lyndon Johnson's subsequent advocacy was Congress finally moved to act. After enduring a months-long filibuster in the Senate, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was adopted on July 2, 1964. The measure outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, and national origin in all public facilities, and provided for federal enforcement of desegregation in schools and other public settings.

For more information on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, visit its entry in the King Online Encyclopedia here.

To read the text of the 1964 act, click here.
Celebrating Black History Month: King’s Ordination into the Ministry
In the fall of 1947, Martin Luther King delivered his first sermon at the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Ebenezer’s congregation voted to license King as a minister soon afterward, and he was ordained on 25 February 1948. King went on to serve as Ebenezer’s associate minister during his breaks from Crozer Theological Seminary and from his doctoral studies at Boston University School of Theology through early 1954. He returned as co-pastor with his father, Martin Luther King, Sr., serving from 1960 until his assassination in 1968.

To read more about the history of Ebenezer Baptist Church, visit the Online King Encyclopedia, here.
Celebrating Black History Month: Harry Belafonte
Today we recognize the contributions of Harry Belafonte. After completing his studies in acting at the New School for Social Research in New York City, Belafonte joined the American Negro Theater in Harlem. From there, Belafonte launched his professional singing and acting career, which has spanned decades and includes his best-selling album, Calypso.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Belafonte participated in the Civil Rights Movement and used his popular status to spearhead fundraising efforts for civil rights organizations. He helped finance the Freedom Rides in 1961 and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the 1964 "Freedom Summer."

Belafonte maintained a close relationship with the King family. When Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested and held in jail in Birmingham, Belafonte organized fundraising efforts that allowed the Birmingham Movement to continue in King's absence.

To read more about Belafonte, visit his King Encyclopedia page here.

To visit Belafonte's entry on the National Park Service's International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, click here.
Celebrating Black History Month: Dorothy Cotton
Today we celebrate the work of Ms. Dorothy Cotton. Recognized as “the highest ranking woman in SCLC during most of the 60s,” Dorothy Foreman Cotton served as director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s (SCLC) Citizenship Education Program (CEP) at the peak of the civil rights movement, a position that situated her in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s inner circle of executive staff.

Cotton’s involvement with the civil rights movement began in the late 1950s, when she joined Gillfield Baptist Church in Petersburg and met its pastor Wyatt Tee Walker. Under his leadership she became involved in local protests targeting segregation, and eventually became secretary of the Petersburg Improvement Association. Cotton first met King at a dinner while she was working in Petersburg, and recalls that he had “some intangible magnetic quality.… That something that made people want to be with him … because he had a way of really being with you when he was with you.”

To read more about Ms. Cotton, click here.

To visit Ms. Cotton’s website, click here.
Celebrating Black History Month: The Supreme Court Ruling in Edwards v. South Carolina
In February 1963, The U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue of public demonstrations for civil rights in the case of Edwards v. South Carolina. On February 25 of that year, the court upheld the right of all persons, regardless of race, color, or creed, to petition for a redress of grievances by means of a public demonstration.

The Court stepped in to resolve the question of whether South Carolina had infringed on black citizens' rights to peaceably assemble after state police officers arrested demonstrators at the state capitol who did not disperse after being told to do so. Involved were 187 black high school and college students who had not posed any threat and had not elicited a threatening reaction from the crowd watching them.

In its ruling, the Court held that the state infringed not only on the demonstrators' First Amendment right to peaceably assemble, but also on their Fourteenth Amendment right to do so without interference by the states. The Court defended its holding, stating that the Fourteenth Amendment "does not permit a State to make criminal the peaceful expression of unpopular views."

To read the full text of the opinion of the Court, click here.
Celebrating Black History Month: Solomon Snowden Seay, Sr.
In the years leading up to the Montgomery bus boycott, Solomon Snowden Seay, Sr., a pastor at Mount Zion AME Church, was one of the most vocal opponents to inequality in Montgomery. Once the boycott began, Seay served on the negotiating committee of the Montgomery Improvement Association and advocated social change through nonviolent means.

Seay continued his activism after the boycott ended and served as a key figure in Montgomery during the Freedom Rides. During the rides Seay volunteered to shelter riders in his home and was shot in the arm by an unidentified assailant from a passing car.

In 1962, after the departure of King and Ralph Abernathy to Atlanta, Seay was elected president of the Montgomery Improvement association. He continued to serve in the ministry until his retirement in 1982.

To read more about Solomon Snowden Seay, Sr. visit his page in the King Encyclopedia here.

To learn more about the Montgomery Improvement Association, click here
Celebrating Black History: Morehouse College
Today marks the 146th anniversary of the founding of Morehouse College. Founded in 1867 by William Jefferson White as Augusta Baptist Institute, the school’s purpose was to educate newly freed male slaves to teach and become ministers. The school relocated from Augusta to Atlanta in 1879, and was renamed the Atlanta Baptist Seminary. Later named Atlanta Baptist College at the turn of the twentieth century, it was eventually renamed after American Baptist Home Missionary Society official Henry L. Morehouse.

In September 1944, Martin Luther King began his studies at Morehouse College in Atlanta, following in the footsteps of his father, Martin Luther King, Sr., and his maternal grandfather, A. D. Williams. Although King’s years at Morehouse were characterized by middling academic performance, his experiences outside the classroom set him on a path toward the ministry and the struggle for civil rights.

To read more about Dr. King’s experience at Morehouse, click here.

To visit the Morehouse University website, click here.
Celebrating Black History Month: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference
On February 14, 1957, Martin Luther King, Jr. was elected president of the newly established Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The SCLC, which linked hundreds of African-American churches across the United States, functioned as a key coordinating mechanism for the activities of civil rights workers on the ground.

King’s title for the organization was a natural choice that followed from the moral terms in which he framed the civil rights movement. Writing on this subject, King said, “This conference is called because we have no moral choice, before God, but to delve deeper into the struggle—and to do so with greater reliance on nonviolence and with greater unity, coordination, sharing, and Christian understanding.”

The SCLC was involved in number of major initiatives, including the Crusade for Citizenship, the Albany Movement, and the March on Washington. Later on the SCLC worked to counteract economic inequality through programs as Operation Breadbasket and the Poor People’s Campaign. Today the organization remains committed to the causes of economic and social justice for which it was founded.

For more on King's activities with the SCLC, visit the King Encyclopedia here.

For the SCLC's website and information on its current activities, click here.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
At the time of Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s birth in 1929, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was already the largest and most influential civil rights organization in the United States. King’s father, Martin Luther King, Sr., headed Atlanta’s NAACP branch; and in 1944, King, Jr., chaired the youth membership committee of the Atlanta NAACP Youth Council. Although King believed in the power of nonviolent direct action, he understood that it worked best when paired with the litigation and lobbying efforts of the NAACP.

The NAACP was formed on 12 February 1909 when progressive whites joined forces with W. E. B. DuBois and other young blacks from the Niagara Movement, a group dedicated to full political and civil rights for African Americans. The NAACP initially focused on ending the practice of lynching, and although lobbying efforts did not persuade Congress to pass anti-lynching laws, the 1919 publication of the NAACP report entitled, Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, convinced President Woodrow Wilson and other politicians to condemn mob violence.

To read more about the NAACP, visit the King Online Encyclopedia, here.

To visit the official NAACP website, and learn more about their history, mission, and current projects, click here.
Celebrating Black History Month: Operation Breadbasket
On 11 February 1966, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference launched Operation Breadbasket in Chicago as part of its Chicago Campaign. Operation Breadbasket began in Atlanta in 1962 as a selective patronage campaign designed by Leon Sullivan. After consulting employment statistics for companies in Atlanta, ministers from Operation Breadbasket approached company representatives to ask for more equitable hiring practices. If a company declined, the ministers instructed their church members to boycott goods and services from the noncompliant company.

Over 200 ministers attended the kick-off meeting for Operation Breadbasket in Chicago. Under the leadership of Jesse Jackson, a student at the time, Chicago's Operation Breadbasket quickly achieved substantial gains in equitable employment practices. In 1967, Jackson became the national director of Operation Breadbasket. The accomplishments of the Chicago branch of Operation Breadbasket led King to declare it SCLC's "most spectacularly successful program" in Chicago (King, January 1967).

To read more about Operation Breadbasket, click here.

To read more about Jesse Jackson, click here.
Celebrating Black History Month: King’s visit to India
Following the success of the Montgomery bus boycott, which had been modeled on Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence, King sought a trip to India to further aquaint himself with Gandhian principles.

After raising funds through numerous organizations, King and Coretta Scott King departed for India on 3 February 1959. While traveling throughout the country, King met with political officials and participants from the nonviolent Indian independence movement.

During his trip, King noted that India's leaders publicly endorsed integration laws, but he also drew parallels between the discrimination against India's untouchables and the race issues in the United States.

The trip to India further cemented King's faith in the power of nonviolent resistance, noting that "since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity" (Papers 5:136).

To read more about King's visit to India, visit the King Online Encyclopedia.

To read more about King and nonviolent resistance, vist the King Online Encyclopedia entry for nonviolent resistance here.
Celebrating Black History Month: King Writes to Eisenhower Amid Escalating Violence
On February 14, 1957, King addressed the Southern Leaders Conference, of which he had just been elected president. In his speech he called for President Eisenhower to convene a White House conference on law and order in the South. Amid a backdrop of numerous bombings that had targeted several religious and community leaders, King also wrote directly to Eisenhower, warning him that the level of violence in the South had reached "alarming proportions."

In his letter, King responded to the White House's statement from one month prior that it would be unable to schedule a time for President Eisenhower to make a speech in the South. Emphasizing the gravity of the situation, King informed Eisenhower of some of the measures that African-Americans had to take in order to ensure their physical security, and wrote that they were now confronting what appeared to be "an organized campaign of violence and terror."

Imploring the President to visit the South in order to see what was occurring firsthand, King wrote, "While we are sensitive to the burden of your responsible office, we are aware that human life and orderly, decent conduct of our communities are at stake. These imperative considerations make it difficult for us to accept as final your message that you cannot make a speech in the south at this time. It is our sincere belief that action on your part at this moment can avert tragic situations by cooling passions, fostering reasonableness, and encouraging respect for law."

King also used the occasion to state that if Eisenhower did not respond in a timely manner to the events in the South, the Southern Leadership Conference would lead a pilgramage for prayer to Washington, D.C. The purpose of this, according to King, would be to make the nation aware of the violence in the South and to advocate for what he called "first-class citizenship" on behalf of all the men, women and children who did not have it.

To read the full text of King's letter to Eisenhower, visit the document's page at The King Institute here.
Celebrating Black History Month: Dr. Maya Angelou
In 1960 Maya Angelou, a single mother and struggling actor, accepted the position of northern coordinator for the New York office of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). It was in this capacity that Angelou first met Martin Luther King, Jr. Although she worked with SCLC for only six months, King was grateful for her contribution, particularly the coordination of many several fundraising ventures.

After hearing King speak at a church in Harlem in early 1960, Angelou resolved to help SCLC raise funds by staging a revue, “Cabaret for Freedom.” The revue was a rousing success, with well-known black celebrities Sidney Poitier, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, and Lorraine Hansberry attending opening night.

Following Bayard Rustin’s departure from SCLC in 1960, Angelou succeeded him as director of the New York office. After two months on the job, Angelou met King on one of his visits to New York. In her autobiography, The Heart of a Woman, she discussed her first impressions of King: “He was shorter than I expected and so young. He had an easy friendliness, which was unsettling” (Angelou, 107). After leaving SCLC, Angelou went onto have a remarkable career as a poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director. Angelou continues to travel the world, spreading her legendary wisdom.

To learn more about Angelou’s relationship with Dr. King and SCLC, visit the King Online Encyclopedia, here.

To learn more about Angelou’s extraordinary life, visit her official website, here.
Celebrating Black History Month: Coretta Scott King meets with Malcolm X
In honor of Black History Month, we will be featuring daily posts related to the Civil Rights Movement, and black history and culture on our website and Facebook pages.

On 5 February 1965, while Martin Luther King, Jr. was in jail in Selma, Alabama, Malcolm X traveled to Selma where he had a private meeting with Coretta Scott King. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X had each voiced public criticisms of the other's tactics in the past. The primary point of disagreement between the two stemmed from King's adherence to the philosophy of nonviolence, and Malcolm's rejection of it. In 1963, Malcolm publicly criticized the nonviolent movement, arguing that "the only revolution based on loving your enemy is the Negro revolution...That's no revolution" (Malcolm X, "Mesages to the Grass Roots," 9).

In early January 1965, Malcolm gave an interview encouraging closer cooperation between civil rights groups. He asserted that his recently created Organization of African American Unity (OAAU) would "support fully and without compromise any action by any group that is designed to get meaningful immediate results" (Malcolm X, Two Speeches, 31). During his meeting with Coretta the following month he assured her that he "really did come here thinking that I could make it easier. If the white people realize what the alternative is, perhaps they will be more willing to hear Dr. King." (Scott King, My Life, 256). In a press conference the same day, he gave his support for the jailed King and the issue of voting rights, stating, "I think the people in this part of the world would do well to listen to Dr. Martin Luther King and give him what he's asking for and give it to him fast before some other factions come along and try to do it another way" (Malcolm X, Press Conference).

To read more about Malcolm X, visit the King Online Encyclopedia here.

To read more about King's philosophy of nonviolent resistance, click here.
Drum Major Instinct
In honor of Black History Month, we will be featuring daily posts related to the Civil Rights Movement, and black history and culture on our website and Facebook pages.

In 1926, historian Carter G. Woodson initiated the first “Negro History Week,” celebrated during the second week of February and corresponding with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Woodson created the holiday with the hope that it eventually be eliminated when black history became fundamental to American history. Negro History Week was met with enthusiastic response; it prompted the creation of black history clubs, an increase in interest among teachers, and interest from progressive whites. In 1976, the federal government acknowledged the expansion of what was by then called, “Black History Week” to “Black History Month.”

For today’s post, we encourage you to read Dr. King’s seminal sermon, “Drum Major Instinct,” which he delivered on 4 February 1968 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Ironically, two months before his assassination on 4 April 1968, he told his congregation what he would like said at his funeral: “I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.” Excerpts were played at King’s nationally televised funeral service, held at Ebenezer on 9 April 1968.

To read the sermon in full, click here.

To read more about the sermon, visit the King Online Encyclopedia, here.
February 1960: The Greensboro sit-in movement begins
On 1 February 1960, four black students from North Carolina A&T College sat at a lunch counter in a segregated Woolworth in Greensboro, North Carolina. When asked to leave, they politely refused and remained at the lunch counter until the store closed an hour later. The next day the number of students increased to about two dozen and attracted local media.

Participation in the peaceful sit-ins grew rapidly and by the end of April over 50,000 students had participated at numerous locations spanning several states. Throughout the sit-ins the students maintained their commitment to nonviolence even as they were frequently arrested by police and beaten by segregationists.

In addition to showcasing the effectiveness of nonviolent direct action, the sit-ins demonstrated the leadership of a newer generation of civil rights activists. Determined to continue this precedent of independent student demonstrations, leaders of the numerous sit-in campaigns met with leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference on 16 April 1960. From this meeting the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee emerged, ensuring the endurance of the youth movement into the future.

To read more, visit the King Encyclopedia page for the sit-ins

Click here to read an article on the sit-ins from the Richmond News Leader
January 2013- A National Day of Service: Honoring King’s Legacy with his own method
As we prepare to celebrate the King Holiday with a long-weekend, President Obama and the First Lady, the Vice President and Dr. Biden will take part in an event that's become a tradition -- a National Day of Service to honor Dr. King's legacy on 19 Saturday. Following the decadence of the holiday season, such service is an excellent way to commemorate Dr. King’s birthday. In fact, in 1957 King outlined the negative effects of being self-centered and prescribed service as one method of absolution. In the final sermon in the four part series concerning the “Problems of Personality Integration,” he warned, “An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. And so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness. They end up the victims of distorted and disrupted personality.” He suggested that “one of the best ways to face this problem of self-centeredness is to discover some cause and some purpose, some loyalty outside of yourself and give yourself to that something.” To read the full text of the sermon, “Conquering Self-Centeredness,” click here. To find out more about the National Day of Service, visit
December 1955: The Montgomery Bus Boycott begins
On 1 December 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. This event sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which showed the power of nonviolent mass demonstrations.

Following Parks's arrest, Jo Ann Robinson and E. D. Nixon organized a single-day bus boycott in Montgomery for 5 December 1955. When ninety percent of the city's black community participated in the boycott, the Montgomery Improvement Association was formed, with Martin Luther King, Jr. as its president. The MIA set its sights on coordinating a sustained boycott to eliminate segregation in city transportation.

As the boycott gained strength, its impact on Montgomery City Lines bus company was immediately apparent. On 3 January 1956, Montgomery City Lines informed the city commission of the need to double fares in order to keep operating.

As the most visible leader of the boycott, King was threatened repeatedly over the course of the 13-month boycott. On 30 January 1956, King's house was bombed while he spoke at a mass meeting. His wife and daughter escaped uninjured, and King urged supporters to continue their commitment to nonviolence.

In November 1956, the Supreme Court affirmed a previous federal court ruling that struck down segregated seating on public buses. On 20 December 1956 the MIA ended the boycott and the next day King boarded one of the first integrated buses in Montgomery.

To read more take a look at the King Encyclopedia's entries for the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Montgomery Improvement Association.
Election 2012: Remembering the Voter Education Project

The Presidential Campaign has been extremely tumultuous this year, and all sides of the political spectrum are encouraging their supporters to vote with a sense of urgency. Controversy over voting laws, charges of discrimination and illegal requirements have clouded the election, and even prompted the United Nations to send representatives to monitor the polls.

As we wait to see who will be our President for the next four years, take a look at the King Encyclopedia’s entry on the Voter Education Project and the 1965 Voting Rights Bill.

Working against deeply entrenched racism, the Voter Education Project (VEP) coordinated the voter registration campaigns of five civil rights groups—the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Congress of Racial Equality, and the National Urban League—under the auspices of the Southern Regional Council (SRC), a non-profit research organization, with the hopes of securing the vote for African Americans in the South.

On 6 August 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. The act abolished literacy tests and poll taxes designed to disenfranchise African American voters, and gave the federal government the authority to take over voter registration in counties with a pattern of persistent discrimination.

October 1960: Atlanta sit-ins
On October 19, 1960, Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested along with fifty student protesters while conducting a sit-in demonstration at the segregated Magnolia Tea Room located in Rich's department store in Atlanta, Georgia. The Magnolia Tea Room demonstration was part of a city-wide series of sit-in protests that resulted in the arrests of some 280 students throughout Atlanta. After his arrest King refused to post bond and stated that he would serve his time if convicted. The charges against him were dropped on October 25, 1960.

Read the statement King prepared for his arraignment the afternoon of his arrest.

Click here to read a letter prepared by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee urging fellow students to voice their support for King and the sit-in protesters to local politicians.

Little Rock Nine
On 4 September 1957, nine African-American students attempted to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas as allowed by the ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Confronted on that day by a mob of segregationists and the Arkasnsas National Guard, the Little Rock Nine did not successfully enter the school until they were escorted through a side door under police protection nearly three weeks later.

Click here to read more details about the Little Rock Nine's integration saga.

King sent a 9 September 1957 telegram to President Dwight D. Eisenhower urging Federal action to end the crisis.

Glenn Smiley, National Field Secretary with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, wrote an eyewitness account of his experience in Little Rock during the crisis.
King’s impression of Jamaica
In 1965, just three years after Jamaica gained independence, Dr. and Mrs. King spent several days traveling what he described as “the most beautiful island in all the world.” As Jamaica commemorates its first fifty years of independence, take a listen to King’s 4 July 1965 sermon, in which he describes his experience there, after the jump:
May 1954: Brown v. Board of Education
May marks the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka which outlawed segregation in education, overturned the "separate but equal" decision established in Plessy v. Ferguson, and provided a spark to ignite the civil rights movement. To read more about the decision and its impact, click on the links below.

To read about the court decision.
Thurgood Marshall argued the case before the Supreme Court.
The most noteworthy test of the Court's ruling came in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957.
Court cases, international travel and national student movements
This month we'd like to hightlight a few signifiicant events that occured in February. Please use the links below to read more about:
Browder v. Gayle The case that ended the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
King travels to India, 1959 King travels to the land of Gandhi and massive nonviolent resistance.
Student Sit-ins in Greensboro, N.C., 1960 Students demand service at lunchcounters sparking a nationwide movement.
Desegregating Montgomery’s Buses
December marks anniversaries of both the foundation of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) and the successful conclusion of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Begun in December 1955, the year-long campaign resulted in the desegregation of the city bus system of Montgomery, Alabama, provided one of the most memorable examples of direct action demonstrations in the history of the United States, and vaulted Dr. King into the national spotlight as the leader of the civil rights movement.

Check out some of the major highlights of the boycott:

Leaflet, "Don't Ride The Bus".
Listen to Dr. King's Address to the First MIA Mass Meeting.
Read the "Integrated Bus Suggestions" distributed by the MIA following the integreation of city buses.

Click here to read more.
1964 Thanksgiving Fast for Freedom
King announces his support for the Thanksgiving Fast for Freedom, a youth movement in which students abstain from one meal the Thursday before Thanksgiving and donate the money to feeding families in the Mississippi Delta region.
Fred L. Shuttlesworth, Civil Rights Hero
In honor of Rev. Shuttlesworth's passing, please find additional information about his life here.
Martin Luther King Memorial
On 28 August 1963, more than 200,000 demonstrators took part in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in the nation’s capital. During this event, Martin Luther King delivered his memorable ‘‘I Have a Dream’’ speech. Click on the links below for more information on King's speech and the March on Washington event.
I Have a Dream
March on Washington
“Kick Up Dust,” Letter to the Editor, Atlanta Constitution
During the summer after his sophomore year at Morehouse, King wrote this letter to the editor of Atlanta's largest newspaper. Although King does not make clear his reasons for writing, it was likely in response to recent racially motivated murders. In the letter, King is critical of those who attempt to "obscure the real question of rights and opportunities." Years later, King, Sr., observed that he and his wife had "no intimation of [King, Jr.'s] developing greatness . . . until as a teenager he wrote a letter to the editor of a local paper which received widespread and favorable comment."
King’s commencement speech, in honor of the class of 2011
King encourages the Lincoln Unversity class of 1961 to fulfill the whole American Dream by engaging in non-violent direct action, and calls on the graduates to not be "detached spectators, but involved participants, in this great drama that is taking place in our nation and around the world." For full text of the speech, click here.
“Race Still Matters” John Seigenthaler on the Freedom Rides
John Seigenthaler, aide to Robert F. Kennedy during the 1960 Presidential campaign and Administrative Assistant to the Attorney General, Department of Justice (1961), joined the Freedom Riders in Brimingham; and was attacked and hospitalized along with fellows SNCC riders in Montgomery, Alabama. Fifty years later, Seigenthaler recalls his experience and passes down the legacy of the Freedom Rides to his young grandchild. "Race still matters," he concludes. Click here to watch the PBS clip
Freedom Ride Coordinating Committee
As the Freedom Riders caught the nation's attention, SCLC, CORE, SNCC, and other civil rights organizations came together to form the Freedom Ride Coordinating Committee to provide planning for and enhanced execution of the Freedom Ride movement.
Click here to see the report of the meeting
George Houser: Recollections of the Freedom Rides
George Houser, staff member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and founding member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), talks about his involvement in the 1947 Journey for Reconciliation and how it served as a model for the later Freedom Ride movement.
Freedom Riders Return to Mississippi
Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour thanked Freedom Riders for their courage and sacrifices in welcoming the Freedom Riders back to the state. As they did fifty years ago, the Riders than traveled by bus to Jackson, Mississippi, this time for the dedication of a Mississippi Freedom Trail sign outside the house of Medgar Evers.
SNCC Telegram to President Kennedy
On the heels of attacks on Freedom Riders at the city's bus station and the beseiging of First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Edward King, executive secretary of SNCC, wires President Kennedy urging he publically denounce the actions of the anti-integrationists. Click here to see the telegram.
Bernard LaFayatte, Jr. “The Siege of the Freedom Riders”
In an op-ed piece written for the New York Times, Bernard LaFayette, Jr. describes the events that took place fifty years ago on the Freedom Ride from Birmingham to Montgomery.
Interview with John Seigenthaler
In an interview that took place in 1966, John Seigenthaler of the Department of Justice, recounts his experience in Alabama during the Freedom Rides.
Renewal of the Freedom Rides
Ten members of SNCC continued the Freedom Rides, leaving Nashville for Birmingham on May 17, 1961.
Dr. King speaks out against violence toward Freedom Riders
Just days after the violence of Anniston and Birmingham, Dr. King speaks to an overflowing crowd in North Carolina, calling continued direct mass action in Alabama and Mississippi.
Statement of Charles Anthony Person
Charles Anthony Person, a student from Morehouse College and veteran of the Atlanta sit-ins, volunteered to join the Freedom Rides after receiving a letter from CORE in April 1961. The following document is his statement given to FBI agents after the Freedom Riders were attacked and beaten in Birmingham, Ala.
Profiles of Freedom Riders
As we commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom Rides in the month of May, and leading up to the major events of the Rides, each day this week we will profile a different Freedom Rider.
Original, partial list of Freedom Riders, sent to President Kennedy by James Farmer, 26 April 1961
James Farmer
Genevieve Hughes Houghton
Benjamin Elton Cox
Mae Francis Moultrie
Jim Zwerg
James Peck
Profiles of Freedom Riders
As we commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom Rides in the month of May, and leading up to the major events of the Rides, each day this week we will profile a different Freedom Rider.
Original, partial list of Freedom Riders, sent to President Kennedy by James Farmer, 26 April 1961
James Farmer
Genevieve Hughes Houghton
Benjamin Elton Cox
Mae Francis Moultrie
Jim Zwerg
Profiles of Freedom Riders
As we commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom Rides in the month of May, and leading up to the major events of the Rides, each day this week we will profile a different Freedom Rider.
Original, partial list of Freedom Riders, sent to President Kennedy by James Farmer, 26 April 1961
James Farmer
Genevieve Hughes Houghton
Benjamin Elton Cox
Mae Francis Moultrie
Profiles of Freedom Riders
As we commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom Rides in the month of May, and leading up to the major events of the Rides, each day this week we will profile a different Freedom Rider.
Original, partial list of Freedom Riders, sent to President Kennedy by James Farmer, 26 April 1961
James Farmer
Genevieve Hughes Houghton
Benjamin Elton Cox
Profiles of Freedom Riders
As we commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom Rides in the month of May, and leading up to the major events of the Rides, each day this week we will profile a different Freedom Rider.
Original, partial list of Freedom Riders, sent to President Kennedy by James Farmer, 26 April 1961
James Farmer
Genevieve Hughes Houghton
Profiles of Freedom Riders
As we commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom Rides in the month of May, and leading up to the major events of the Rides, each day this week we will profile a different Freedom Rider.
Original, partial list of Freedom Riders, sent to President Kennedy by James Farmer, 26 April 1961
James Farmer
On this Day in History
On 4 May 1961, a group of freedom riders, under the direction of CORE national director James Farmer, left Washington, D. C. enroute to New Orleans, Louisiana. Click here for pictures
This Month in the Movement: May 1961
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides of 1961. Following the Supreme Court ruling in Boynton v. Virginia (1960), declaring segregation in interstate travel facilities unconstitutional, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) began recruiting volunteers to participate in the Freedom Rides. The group of thirteen freedom riders, seven black and six white, would board a Greyhouse bus on 4 May in Washington, D.C. headed toward New Orleans, where they hoped to arrive on 17 May to celebrate the seventh anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. Read more
This Month in the Movement: April 1968
On 3 April 1968, Martin Luther King spoke before a group of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, saying: “We’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through.” The stike, brought on by the deaths of two sanitation workers in February, was marked by uncooperative city officials, violent confrontations between police and demonstrators, and finally the presence of the National Guard.

To learn more about Dr. King's final speech and Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike use the following links.
Memphis Sanitation Workers' Strike
I've Been to the Mountain Top
Speech, I've Been to the Mountain Top
A Walk Through the Holy Land, Easter Sunday Sermon Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church
In his sermon delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church on Easter Sunday, King frames Christ's obedient sacrifice on the cross as the ultimate symbol of hope. King argues: "We’ve been buried in numerous graves—the grave of economic insecurity, the grave of exploitation, the grave of oppression. We’ve watched justice trampled over and truth crucified. But I’m here to tell you this morning, Easter reminds us that it won’t be like that all the way. It reminds us that God has a light that can shine amid all of the darkness.” Although King's sermon was tailored to the tribulations of the Freedom Struggle in 1959, the lesson still bears repeating.
Agape: The Highest Form of Love
While February seems to be identified by the romantic love of Valentine's Day, we take a moment this month to present you with Dr. King's reminder that there are more types of love than simply romantic love. For King, the highest form of love, and the level of love we should all strive to reach is agape, an all-inclusive love stemming from God's love that transcends physical characteristics. So this Valentine's Day, keep fresh in your mind Dr. King's prayer that you "love every man, not for your sake but for his sake. And you love every man because God loves him."

"Levels of Love," King's Sermon at Ebenzer Baptist Church
Agape Encyclopedia entry
King explains the use of agape to change the hearts of those who oppose you
This Month in the Movement: February 1960
On 1 February 1960, four black students in Greensboro, N.C. sat down at a segregated lunch counter. Their actions demonstrated the vitality of student direct protest, a key ingredient in later civil rights campaigns. To learn more about the sit-ins and their impact, make sure to view these resources below!
Encyclopedia entry
King's February speech to the students
Volume Introduction covering the sit-ins
King’s inspiration: Mohandas K. Gandhi
Gandhi and his philosophy were of special interest to the progressive African American community, including Howard Thurman, Benjamin E. Mays, William Stuart Nelson, Mordecai Johnson and King.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday Celebration 2011
List of Events and Opportunities to celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday 2011.
December 1964: King Awarded Nobel Peace Prize
On 10 December 1964 Dr. King became the second African-American to win the Nobel Peace Prize when it was awarded to him for his leadership in the civil rights struggle in the United States. Deflecting the spotlight away from himself personally, King states in his acceptance speech that he receives the award "on behalf of all men who love peace and brotherhood," and as recognition of the countless others engaged in freedom struggles around the world. Click on the links below for more information about King's Nobel Peace Prize.

Acceptance Speech at Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony
Nobel Peace Prize Encyclopedia Entry
Congratulatory Telegram from Edward Kennedy
Video of King receiving the award, courtesy of the King Center in Atlanta
Eulogy for the Martyred Children
October marks the time of year where cultures around the world honor their dead. In keeping with this tradition, this month's In the Movement document features King's eulogy of three children—Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, and Cynthia Diane Wesley—killed in the bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, September 1963. In this moving acclamation King proclaims, "These children—unoffending, innocent, and beautiful—were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity."

Click on the link to listen or read more.
September 1958: Stride Toward Freedom
Fifty-two years ago this month Dr. King published his first book, Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, his memoir of the struggle in Montgomery, Alabama. While aiming to clearly explain the motives behind the boycott and his leadership, King also outlines the ideological influences which led him to his philosophy of nonviolence. Click on the links below for more information and to read an excerpt of his book.

Stride Toward Freedom Encyclopedia Entry
An excerpt from chapter six, "My Pilgrimage to Nonviolence"
More on the writing of Stride Toward Freedom
August 1963: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
Twenty-eight August marks the forty-seventh anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, when more than 200,000 demonstrators marched to the Lincoln Memorial and heard Dr. King deliver his now historic “I Have a Dream” speech. Check out the links below for more information and to hear Dr. King deliver a portion of the speech.

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom Announcement
"I Have A Dream," Speech Encyclopedia Entry
"I Have A Dream," Speech Audio
June 1953: Marriage to Coretta Scott
On 18 June 1953, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Coretta Scott were married, after meeting each other in early 1952. For more on the courtship, make sure to check out the resources below!

Coretta Scott King Encyclopedia Entry
Letter to Coretta Scott, 18 July 1952
Background on the courtship (pp. 12-14, 16, 19)
May 1957: Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom
On 17 May 1957, around 25,000 demonstrators convened at Washington D.C. for The Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, urging the federal government to act on the then-three year old Brown decision. King, who gave the last speech of the event, delivered a performance that cemented his new national stature. For more, click on the links below and the following sidebars!

Prayer Pilgrimage Encyclopedia Entry
"Give Us The Ballot," King's speech
More background on the Prayer Pilgrimage
This Month in the Movement: April 1960
This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a student organization which played a vital role in the civil rights struggle. To learn more about SNCC, click on the links below and the documents in their sidebars!
SNCC Encyclopedia Entry
King's press conference held on 15 April 1960
More background on King and SNCC's founding
This Month in the Movement: March 1957
In March 1957, King was one of several African American delegates to visit the independence celebrations of the new nation of Ghana. His visit was symbolic of both his growing stature and the worldwide aspects of the growing civil rights movement. For more on King's Ghana trip, see these resources below!

Ghana Trip Encyclopedia Entry
Birth of a New Nation, King's sermon on the event
More Background on the Trip
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