Southern Christian Leadership

In 1957 Martin Luther King joined with Ralph David Abernathy, Fred Shutterworth, and Bayard Rustin to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the main objective of the SCLC was to coordinate and assist local organizations working for the full equality of African Americans. King was elected president and Abernathy secretary-treasurer. The new organisation was committed to using nonviolence in the struggle for civil rights, and SCLC adopted the motto: "Not one hair of one head of one person should be harmed."

In 1963 the SCLC played an important role in the campaigns against lunch counter segregation and voter registration drives. The following year it joined with the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) to organize the the famous March on Washington. On 28th August, 1963, more than 200,000 people marched peacefully to the Lincoln Memorial to demand equal justice for all citizens under the law. At the end of the march Martin Luther King made his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

After King's assassination in 1968, Ralph David Abernathy became the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He held this post until his retirement in 1977.