Civil Rights Campaigns after the Montgomery Bus Boycott

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Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) 19

Formed in 1957. MLK was president, and it was full of preachers. Based in Atlanta, Georgia and dominated by MLK until his death - 1968.

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The Greensboro Sit-in 1960

4 students from the local college (North Carolina) entered a branch of Woolworth's and ordered at a "whites only" counter. When refused service, they stayed there all day to protest and returned the next day with 23 others (including 3 whites). This enlarged to over 80 by the end of the 3rd day until the store was forced to close. 

Successful because:

  • Protestors were students - had no jobs to lose, were determined, idealistic and not easily intimidated
  • Woolworth's staff didn't know what to do - protest gained momentum before they called police and tried to stop it
  • North Carolina - not a hardline racist state - influential support from whites e.g. Terry Sandford, soon to be elected Governor

Significant because:

  • Idea of sit-ins caught on very quickly all over the South, affecting over 100 cities and nearly 50,000 people took part
  • It affected all public places
  • Gained support from a number of civil rights leaders e.g. Fred Shuttlesworth, Ella Baker and eventually MLK himself
  • Showed how media coverage could increase support
  • Showed blacks' economic power (Woolworth's profits declined by 1/3 during the campaign)
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The Student Non-Violent Co-coordinating Committee

  • Ella Baker set up a meeting at Shaw University in North Carolina 
  • Started with lunch counter sit-ins
  • Organised protests against poverty, educational deprivation and inhuman treatment
  • Peaceful protests evolved into a more vigourous form of direct action - designed to provoke inciders which would confront white racists and create presssure for change
  • The SNCC members were young and more radical than the SCLC
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Success of the Sit-Ins

  • Police racism emphasised: 2,000+ protestors arrested in 1960 but hardly any of the racist thugs who attacked them
  • Most Americans had TV: could watch the brutality against well dressed, peaceful students whilst the police did nothing to help them
  • Protestors remianed non-violent: inspired the sympathy of white liberals and placed pressure on federal politicians e.g. JFK (the Democratic candidate) to act
  • Many lunch counters were desegregated e.g. Nashville, Tennessee
  • Segregation in public areas (e.g. parks) ended
  • Woolworth's profits went down 1/3 while the protest went on - putting pressure on them to end segregation
  • End of 1961: 810 towns and cities had desegregated public areas (mainly in upper South states like Tennessee, Virginia & North Carolinia & fringe southern states like Texas)

BUT: virtually no change in the 5 Deep South States

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