The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was the first African American union. Founded by labor activist A. Philip Randolph in 1925, it faced intense opposition from the Pullman Car Company, the largest employer of black rail workers. The union played a dual role. It played a prominent part in the struggle to protect workers' rights and safety, while it promoted the civil rights of blacks in the United States. By 1937, the black union had successfully secured a contract from Pullman. Because of Randolph's national leadership of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters as well as the local leadership of one of the union's members, E. D. Nixon, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was a key organizer and supporter of the Montgomery bus boycott (1955-1956) and later struggles for social and economic equality. Randolph played a key role, with Bayard Rustin, in organizing the 1963 March on Washington.

See Eric Foner & John Garraty, eds., The Reader's Companion to American History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991)

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Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)
Founded on the campus of the University of Chicago in 1942 by James Farmer and some members of the interracial organization Fellowship of Reconciliation, CORE was the first civil rights organization to promote the Gandhian philosophy of nonviolence, a strategy that had helped India win its independence struggle against Britain. CORE held summer workshops between 1945 and 1955 to teach nonviolent direct action. In 1947 CORE sent an interracial team of eight people on a "Journey of Reconciliation" to test a recent Supreme Court ruling against segregated transportation facilities. Less than 20 years later, CORE reinvented the concept of the freedom ride and again sent young activists from the North to challenge segregated transportation facilities in the South. Along with the NAACP and SNCC, CORE became involved in the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project of 1964 and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. After the black separatist Floyd McKissick replaced the pacifist and racial integrationist James Farmer, CORE—like SNCC—lost its former power and momentum. Today, under the leadership of Roy Innis, the organization is focused on economic rights and community self-determination.

See the CORE entry in the King Encyclopedia
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/core.htm

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Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA)
Founded by community leaders and a group of local black ministers four days after the arrest of Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) organized the Montgomery bus boycott (1955-56). Local labor activist E. D. Nixon, who was also the director of the local branch of the NAACP in Montgomery, identified a young and relatively unknown Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose oratorical and conciliatory skills made him a natural and charismatic leader. Under the guidance of Bayard Rustin, the MIA pursued nonviolent mass action, a strategy that culminated in the success of the boycott. In November 1956, King announced to the group that the Supreme Court, in Browder vs. Gayle, had declared segregated seating in public buses unconstitutional. In 1957 the MIA became a founding group of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which also elected Martin Luther King, Jr. as its president.

See the MIA entry in the King Encyclopedia
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/MIA.html

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Nation of Islam (NOI)
The Black Muslims (later called the Nation of Islam) originated in Detroit during the Great Depression. A marginal religious sect initially, it drew on elements of Islam and the black nationalism of Marcus Garvey. For 40 years, the patriarch of this religious movement was Elijah Poole (who changed his name to Elijah Muhammad). While incarcerated, Elijah Muhammad realized the vast potential for recruiting prisoners and the most disadvantaged members of black society into his organization. In the 1950s, the membership of the Black Muslims grew at least tenfold, claiming as many as 100,000 members by 1960. The growth was due to the charisma and oratorical skills of Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little), deputy to Elijah Muhammad until their break in 1964. At that point, Malcolm X founded the Afro-American Organization of Unity (AAOU), which symbolized his move away from the black separatism of Elijah Muhammad's organization. After the death of Elijah Muhammad, his son took the organization in one direction and Louis Farakkhan took it in another, naming it the Nation of Islam.

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National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
The NAACP was founded in 1909 by an interracial coalition of activists that included W.E.B. DuBois and Ida B. Wells. Since its inception, the NAACP has been committed to using the courts and legislation to end racial discrimination. In 1939, the NAACP established the Legal Defense and Education Fund. Under the leadership of attorneys Charles Hamilton Houston and his protégé Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP devoted more than three decades toward fighting segregation. It was Thurgood Marshall who led the legal team to victory in the 1954 Brown v. the Board of Education Supreme Court decision that declared the notion "separate but equal" unconstitutional. The NAACP played a major role in desegregation efforts and the voting registration drives throughout the South as well as lobbying activities to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. Criticized in the 1970s as too moderate by the militant and nationalist black organizations, the NAACP remains a vital national organization protecting and promoting civil rights.

See the NAACP entry in the King Encyclopedia
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/naacp.htm

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Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
Ella Baker, a long-time activist and member of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference, invited the students who participated in the student sit-ins in 1960 to a meeting at Shaw University in North Carolina in April 1960. SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) emerged as one of the most influential organizations in the civil rights movement. Committed to nonviolent direct action, SNCC began organizing more student sit-ins (to desegregate public facilities) and Freedom Rides (to desegregate transportation facilities) in the South. SNCC allied itself closely with Martin Luther King, Jr. and the SCLC. However, the 1966 election of Stokely Carmichael to the chairmanship of SNCC and Carmichael's move to a militant black nationalism eventually created a rift in the organization between those who believed the organization should become more militant and those who believed militancy would be a betrayal of its Gandhian philosophy of nonviolence. Although their power waned, especially after FBI surveillance, SNCC was one of the most important organizations in the early civil rights movement.

See the SNCC entry in the King Encyclopedia
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/enc_SNCC.htm

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Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
After the success of the Montgomery bus boycott, Bayard Rustin, an advisor to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., issued a set of papers to explore the possibility of continuing civil rights activism in the South. King, along with Ministers Charles Steele, Fred Shuttlesworth, and Ralph Abernathy, issued a call for clergymen and civil rights activists from the South to attend a conference in Atlanta in 1957, the Negro Leaders Conference on Nonviolent Integration. Out of this meeting of 60 ministers emerged the regional civil rights organization soon to be called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). It acts as a federation of local affiliates. King was elected its first president and Abernathy its treasurer. Committed to pursuing desegregation through nonviolent mass mobilization, the SCLC was one of the key organizers of the freedom rides, sit-ins, voting registration drives, and the March on Washington and Poor People's Campaign. Although the strength of the SCLC suffered after the assassination of King, and nationalist black organizations criticized its moderation, the SCLC has grown to become a national organization with affiliates all over the country. It continues to fight against discrimination and helps seek better economic opportunities for blacks.

See the SCLC entry in the King Encyclopedia
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/enc_SCLC.htm

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