Civil Rights Campaigns after the Montgomery Bus Boycott


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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