SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) describes itself as "a non-sectarian co-ordinating agency" for individuals and organizations engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience throughout the United States. Founded in 1957 by a group of black ministers led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the SCLC dedicated itself to the complete elimination of Jim Crow practices in southern society. Dr. King was President of the SCLC from its founding until his death in 1968. With headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, the SCLC under King's direction participated in the Birmingham demonstrations of 1963 and the Selma March of 1965. This participation, along with Dr. King's many speaking appearances, did much to secure the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965.
Following the assassination of King, leadership of the SCLC passed to Ralph David Abernathy. Born in 1926, Abernathy was a prime mover in the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-56, as well as one of the founding members of the SCLC in 1957. Along with Dr. King's widow, Coretta, Abernathy led the month-long Poor People's Campaign in Washington, D. C. in 1968. Serving as President of the SCLC until July 7, 1973, Abernathy resigned his position on account of the organization's financial difficulties. The thirty-three member board of the SCLC, however, refused to accept the resignation, persuading Abernathy to resume his office on August 15, 1973. See also: MARTIN LUTHER KING and POOR PEOPLE'S MARCH.