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Aaron Bettis

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As an African American, Christian, resident of Atlanta Georgia, and member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, I feel the need to speak on our behalf. The work that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Dr. King have been able to do regarding Civil Rights, voting, and desegregation is undeniable. The Southern Leadership Conference is an organization led by southern ministers who are already leaders in their communities. These leaders have influenced change in many ways through nonviolent action.

When it came to me choosing which organization I wanted to join and support, it came down to product and results. When it comes to SCLC there has been nothing but results. One of the early efforts of the SCLC was the actions to educate disenfranchised voters in the south. I was one of those disenfranchised voters. Through their actions, it influenced me to seek education on civil rights and the avenues African American citizen could take to support our rights. This led to me joining and many others becoming supporters of Dr. King.

What makes us different from organizations like the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee is that we make contributions to organizations all over. In a sense, we can be looked at as an umbrella organization. We support the SNCC and have funded their efforts (Kelley & Lewis, 2005). The SCLC and Dr. King spearheaded the Birmingham civil rights movement which was a fight for rights in one of the most anti-civil rights cities in the south. Although the fight was tough and led to many leaders such as Dr. King being jailed, the mission was accomplished. On May 7th, 1963, the process of desegregation had begun in Birmingham. This success came with a ton of violence, but it only showed how ugly the face of segregation was. That was not the end of the success of the SCLC. After that came a series of marches that would go down in history books resulting in the 1965 Voting Rights Act and many other advancements.

Because of these successes I have been a proud member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and encourage anyone interested in change as we embark on our next journey to fight poverty.


Kelley, & Lewis, E. (2005). To Make Our World Anew: Volume II: a History of African Americans Since 1880. Oxford University Press USA – OSO.


Kokou Koffigan

Hello Classmates,

As a Christian whose ideology and value are to love one another, regardless of skin color, I chose to join the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), which is led by Dr. Martin Luther King, a man of God. King’s vision as our leader was to love one opponent and overcome them through that love, a nonviolent direct action to end segregation.

The SCLC’s purpose was stated quite clearly. Our goal is to eliminate segregation in American society by ensuring decent-wage employment, fair housing laws and programs, school integration enforcement, direct aid to the poorest Americans, and voter registration drives for African Americans. Our organization welcomed people of all races, religions, and colors. The Birmingham strategy represented a significant shift from King’s earlier attempts to use “nonviolent persuasion”, which relied on the moral aspects of nonviolence to persuade whites to initiate racial change, to the use of “nonviolent coercion” to force change through nonviolent, direct-action demonstrations.

Our plans are to end segregation and to get more people to register to vote. For example, the March we had on Washington and the “I Have a Dream” speech; the 1964 Civil Rights Act, King’s 1964 Nobel Peace Prize; and the Selma campaign of our civil right movement SCLC, led to the introduction of a voting rights bill to Congress, which eventually became the 1965 Voting Rights Act (Kirk, 2013)

Unlike the SCLC, the SNCC did not establish a bureaucratic leadership structure and was not ideologically dominated by a charismatic leader. It was a true grassroots organization whose program and ideology were heavily influenced by the people’s day-to-day concerns. Many people were beaten by police and jailed. The reason why every time I decide to go out, my mother will pray over me so I can return home safely is because of the violence between the police and the SNCC movement. Every time the SNCC called for a march, they warned people that they would be arrested (Anderson, 2010). We’ve been through a lot. That is why our leader chooses peaceful methods, and our movement has finally made it to national television, attracting President John F. Kennedy’s attention, resulting in the passage of the Civil Rights Act by Congress.


Anderson. (2010). Agitations: Ideologies and Strategies in African American Politics. University of Arkansas Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1ffjjpt

Kirk. (2013). Martin Luther King Jr. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315838311

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