Transforming our destiny through activism and youth SCLC internship program.


The Southern Christian Leadership Conference's (SCLC) Programs and Initiatives address the disparities among the historically underserved both nationally and abroad.


In keeping with the mission of the SCLC and the legacy of our founder, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the SCLC's programmatic mission is to first address the triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism. The SCLC Operation Out Think program will bring together leaders across vocational disciplines to produce policy and potential soft power solutions to national and world peace and security issues.


SCLC T.O.D.A.Y. is engaging youth and college students across the nation with the College Leadership On the Yard Project. The SCLC College Leadership Project is mobilizing youth through the formation of SCLC college chapters and consciousness raising forums.


SCLC T.O.D.A.Y. is the 21st Century's premier change agent for social and economic equity. The SCLC is intentionally inclusive, interfaith, and intergenerational with a global reach:

• The Charles Mathis Legal Clinic

• College Leadership On the Yard

• Economic Empowerment Campaign

• Education

• Global Initiative

• HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan

• Immigration Advocacy

• Non Violence Transformation Initiative

• Operation Out Think

• Vote 2012

• Women T.O.D.A.Y. Initiative

From Whence We've Come

Since 1957


The founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is revered for his "nonnonviolent" leadership of the Civil Rights Movement for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. King is the third African American, the twelfth American, and the youngest person ever to earn this most prestigious award. After falling victim to an assassin's bullet on April 4, 1968, Dr. King continues to be one of the most beloved figures in history.

The very beginning of the SCLC can be traced back to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which began on Dec. 5, 1955 after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a bus. The boycott lasted 381 days and ended on Dec. 21, 1956 with the desegregation of the Montgomery bus system. The newly established Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) carried out the boycott. Dr. King served as President and Dr. Ralph David Abernathy served as Program Director. It was one of history's most dramatic and massive nonviolent protests, stunning the nation and the world.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was also a signal to Black America to begin a new phase of the long struggle, a phase that came to be known as the Modern Civil Rights Movement. As bus boycotts spread across the South, leaders of the MIA and other protest groups met in Atlanta on January 10, 1957 to form a regional organization and coordinate protest activities across the South.

Despite a bombing of the home and church of Dr. Abernathy during the Atlanta meeting, sixty people from ten states assembled and announced the founding of the Southern Leadership Conference on Transportation and Nonviolent Integration. They issued a document declaring that civil rights are essential to democracy, segregation must end and all Black people should reject segregation absolutely and nonviolently.

On Feb. 14, 1957, further organizing was done at a meeting in New Orleans, La. The organization shortened its name to the Southern Leadership Conference, established an Executive Board of Directors and elected officers, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as President; Dr. Ralph David Abernathy as Financial Secretary-Treasurer; Rev. C.K. Steele of Tallahassee, Florida as Vice President; Rev. T.J. Jemison of Baton Rouge, La. as Secretary and Attorney I.M. Augustine of New Orleans, La. as General Counsel.

At its first convention in Aug. 1957 in Montgomery, Ala., the Southern Leadership Conference adopted its current name—the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Basic decisions made by the founders at these early meetings included adoption of nonviolent mass action as the cornerstone of strategy; the affiliation of local community organizations with the SCLC across the South and a determination to make the SCLC movement open to all, regardless of race, religion or background.

The SCLC became a national civil rights organization made up of chapters and affiliates with programs that affect the lives of all Americans. Its sphere of influence and interests has become international in scope transcending national boundaries.