Civil Rights: A Few of the Groups That Made a Difference


During the Civil Rights movements in the United States, there were many groups that made a difference in the struggle for equal rights.  The leading groups of the Civil Rights period include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored  People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Congress of Racial  Equality (CORE), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating  Committee (SNCC).
 William Du Bois called together 29 black people on the Canadian side of Niagra Falls to avoid racial discrimination. This was called the Niagra movement. In New York  City in 1909, white Americans scared by lynchings and anti-black actions, called a conference. Many of the members of the Niagra movement including Du Bois accepted an invitation to attend. The result of this was the founding of the NAACP.   Du Bois left his teaching job in Atlanta to become the Director of Publications and Research for the NAACP. Another big leader for the NAACP was Walter Francis White, leader of investigating lynches for the group. He was destined to become the leader of the group. The only thing ironic about the helpings of White was that he was a caucasian male, the ones mostly accused of racial segregation. He though himself as a fighter of simple justice. Even though Whit was one of the minority, he he chose to be identified with Americas most oppressed minority.

The SCLC was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1957 by Martin Luther King, Jr.. The SCLC tried to promote non-violent resistance to discrimination and segregation. In the minds of the committee's  leaders the act of non-violent resistance was peaceful and worked very well. If the committee maintained the peacefulness and potency in their protests the acts of riots and violent encounters would make drastic decreases.  The SCLC, in Birmingham in 1963 protested for the desegregation of restaurants, hotels, and department stores. Also in 1963 they headed the March on Washington . 250,000 people gathered to support civil rights legislation. The SCLC conducted a few voter registration drives in the South. One, in Selma, Alabama in 1965 attracted national attention. Local police tried to stop the drive but could not succeed. Within the Civil Rights community there were more militant groups that challenged the SCLC's policy on non-violence. When Martin Luther King, Jr. died the  SCLC lost most of its central role in the civil rights movement. Reverend Ralph Abernathy succeeded King as leader but he lacked King's charisma.

The CORE was founded in 1942 in Chicago, Illinois to fight discrimination. The leader at that time was James Farmer. In the 1950's they expanded discrimination efforts with direct actions. In 1958 the fist successful boycott group boycotted the St. Louis Bread manufacturers for reasons unknown. In the 1960s they organized the Freedom Riders, which were mixed racial groups. They drove through the South on buses to stop discrimination in public places. The leader then was Floyd B. McKissick.

The SNCC was founded in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1960. The group was founded at suggestion of Martin Luther King. Jr. The most important role for the SNCC was to coordinate student sit-ins in the South. The first chairman elected in 1963 was John Lewis. They publicly opposed the Vietnam War and the military draft in 1965. After that, publications fell off drastically and the SNCC's director of publications, Julian Bond was refused a seat in the Georgia house after being duly elected. Stokely Carmichael replaced John Lewis as chairman. He popularized the "Black power" and "Black is Beautiful" songs. In 1966 Carmichael was succeeded by H. Rap Brown. He in 2 years was eventually voted out of the organization. The name of the group was changed to the Student National Coordinating Committee in 1969.

Bibliography and Resources

Academic American Encyclopedia Volume 18, page 112

Encyclopedia Americana Volume 25, page 342

Encyclopedia Americana Volume 19, page 754

Kellogg, Flint Kellogg. NAACP Baltimore: the Johns Hopkins Press. 1967. A very good book on the foundations and the actions of the NAACP.

Adams, Russell L. Great Negroes- Past and Present. Chicago. Afro-Am Publishing Company, Inc.. 1969. A look at famous black Americans that  made a difference in the Civil Rights movement.

Long, Richard A. Black Americana. Secaucus NJ. Multimedia Publications. 1986. Gave a strong bit of information on how the NAACP was founded and who was leading at the time.

Academic America Encyclopedia Volume 5, page 185 Congress of racial equality 
Encyclopedia Americana Volume 7, page 566 Congress of racial Equality

SIRS Researcher Fall 96' History; Article 27 author: Larry Salomon

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