Southern Christian Leadership Conference

SCLC Founder Dr. M.L. King Jr.

SCLC Founder Dr. M.L. King Jr.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was formed in 1957 just after the Montgomery Bus Boycott had ended. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s (SCLC) main aim was to advance the cause of civil rights in America but in a non-violent manner. From its inception in 1957, its president was Martin Luther King – a post he held until his murder in 1968.As its title suggests, the input into the SCLC came primarily from the church.

The church played a major part in the lives of African-Americans in the South and church leaders played a significant role in each black community in all parts of the South. Martin Luther King was a Baptist minister at Dexter Avenue in Montgomery at the time when Rosa Parks made her famous stand against bus law in December 1955. He became head of the MIA (Montgomery Improvement Association) and played a key role in the boycott – even driving the boycotters to work to ensure that they did not need to use a bus. Continue reading

Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin addresses 1st Nat’l Conference of Colored Women

Josephine Ruffin

 

In 1894 Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin founded the Women’s New Era Club, a charitable organization of sixty prominent black women in Boston. Soon afterwards she began editing its monthly publication, the Women’s Era. Encouraged by the success of the New Era Club and heartened by the rapid growth of similar black women’s groups across the nation, Ruffin organized and convened the first National Conference of Colored Women at the Charles Street A. M. E. Church in Boston in 1895.

While the new organization emphasized its refusal to exclude non-black women, Ruffin nonetheless argued that African American women needed to take the leadership for their own welfare. Two years after the convention met, the National Association of Colored Women was formed with Mary Church Terrell as its first president and Ruffin as editor of the Women’s Era, now the official newspaper for the national organization.

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First States to Abolish Slavery

Rhode Island was the first state to abolish slavery in 1774.

Followed by:

  • Vermont in 1777
  • Pennsylvania in 1780
  • Massachusetts in 1781
  • New Hampshire in 1783
  • Connecticut in 1784
  • New York in 1799
  • New Jersey in 1804

 

These new states never allowed slavery within their borders:

  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Wisconsin
  • Ohio
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Oregon
  • California
  • Illinois

Slavery declared unlawful in British Empire

The struggle for the emancipation of slaves throughout the British Empire was known as the abolitionist movement. Protests against slavery date back to the 18th century, in which Enlightenment thinkers and religious groups like the Quakers highlighted the inhumane nature of the slave trade.

In Britain, the cause of the abolitionist movement was taken up by William Wilberforce, who started the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1787. Although Wilberforce succeeded in having the buying and selling of slaves abolished throughout the British Empire in 1807, there was no prohibitation against the ownership of slaves already purchased before this time.

It was only by 1833, with the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act, that the purchase, sale and ownership of slaves became illegal throughout the British Empire. On 1 August 1834, the practice of slavery in its entirety was abolished, and was replaced by the four year apprenticeship of slaves. This was to enable slave owners to retain their workforce and for slaves to learn a trade
Although the Cape was a British colony in 1834, the emancipation of slaves in South Africa had been delayed until 1 December 1834. The abolition of slavery has often been listed as one of the reasons for the Great Trek.

In many Caribbean countries, which formed part of the British Empire, 1 August is called Emancipation Day and is celebrated as a public holiday.

Selma Freedom March

A march to protest at the intimidation which prevented blacks from voting in Dallas County, Alabama. Selma, a city of 29,000, had 15,000 blacks of voting age, of whom only 355 were registered to vote. Martin Luther king chose Selma as he thought whites would resist violently and that this (through television) would draw attention to his cause and force the government to act.

Sheriff Jim Clark, like ‘Bull’ Connor in the Birmingham demonstrations of 1963, was expected to overreact, which he did. King decided to lead a protest march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery, 56 miles away, where the participants would petition Governor Wallace to protect blacks who wanted to register to vote. Continue reading

Sheridan Broadcasting Corp.

In April 1976, the black-owned Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation purchased a 49 percent interest in the Mutual Black Network for a reported $850,000. Three years later, Sheridan bought the rest for $1 million and renamed it the Sheridan Broadcasting Network. When Mutual sold its interest, MBN had 89 affiliates, reaching 17 million black listeners daily – 70 percent of the U.S. black population.

Incidentally, the two black networks which started out as rivals in 1972 eventually became one: Sheridan merged with NBN in 1991 to form American Urban Radio Networks.

16th Street Baptist Church bombing

The 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL

The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed on Sunday, September 15, 1963 as an act of racially motivated terrorism. The explosion at the African-American church, which killed four girls, marked a turning point in the U.S. 1960s Civil Rights Movement and contributed to support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Although city leaders had reached a settlement in May with demonstrators and started to integrate public places, not everyone agreed with ending segregation. Bombings and other acts of violence followed the settlement, and the church had become an inviting target.  Continue reading

National Negro Business League

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), founder and principal of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, organized the National Negro Business League in 1900 to promote “commercial, agricultural, educational, and industrial advancement … and the commercial and financial development of the Negro.” Washington believed that blacks should “leave political and civil rights alone” in order to “make a businessman of the Negro.”

Washington was hoping that the League would encourage blacks to start their own businesses, thus proving that they were as capable as whites of economic success. This in turn, Washington reasoned, would eventually lead whites to allow blacks — or at least certain blacks — their right to vote and due process of law. The League’s membership included a number of successful black businessmen (and women) and professionals and a large number of the black middle class “strivers” who hoped to start their own businesses.
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