The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is an American
civil rights organization. It played a prominent role in the Civil
Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. SCLC was closely associated
with its first president, Martin Luther King, Jr. The origins of
the Southern Christian Leadership Conference lie in the Montgomery
Bus Boycott that began after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing
to give her seat on a bus to a white man. The bus boycott, which
lasted from December 5, 1955, to December 20, 1956, brought
together two Montgomery ministers: Ralph David Abernathy and Martin
Luther King, Jr.
As the tactic of boycotts to desegregate buses began to spread
in the South, a group of 60 activists met in Atlanta, Georgia, in
January 1957 to discuss the use of nonviolent resistance. At the
meeting, the group established the Southern Leadership Conference
on Transportation and Nonviolent Integration, which was soon
renamed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
As its name suggested, the organization intended to draw its
strength from leaders of the Black Church in the South. Since its
establishment, SCLC has been committed to the use of nonviolent
civil disobedience as a means of securing equal rights for African
Americans. In recent years the organization's focus has expanded to
include human rights movements around the world.