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SCLC New Orleans (LA) Chapter

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SCLC New Orleans (LA) Chapter
Southern Christian Leadership Conference logo.svg
AbbreviationSCLC New Orleans Chapter
FormationOrganized: February 14, 1957
Purpose''Redeeming the soul of America,'' since 1957
HeadquartersNew Orleans, Louisiana
All Are Welcome
Rev. Dr. Norwood Thompson
Affiliations17 affiliates; 57 chapters

The SCLC New Orleans (LA) Chapter (organized February 14, 1957) is the oldest affiliate of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. SCLC continue to advocate for un-served and the under-served in the metropolitan New Orleans area in the spirit of its first president, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many activist, clergy, community leaders and historical figures in the civil rights movement have held membership in the Chapter.


The “SCLC New Orleans (LA) Chapter,” is the oldest organized chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the United States. In 1953, there was a bus boycott in the City of Baton Rouge, Louisiana[1][2] lead by Rev. Theodore Judson Jemison[3][4][5], Pastor of Mount Zion First Baptist Church and President of the National Baptist Convention. Almost two years later, his colleague and friend, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called and visited Rev. Jemison to get information on conducting a non-violent direct action in the form of a bus boycott. Also, in 1955, the Montgomery Improvement Association MIA – 1955-1969)[6][7] of clergy and civic leaders was formed with Rev. King as its President[8][9]. Other leaders in the formation of the MIA were Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy[10], JoAnn Robinson and Edgar D. Nixon[11]. As faith would have it or perhaps staged as claimed by some, Montgomery (AL) NAACP Branch Secretary Rosa Louise McCauley Parks[12][13][14][15][16] refused to move to the back of the bus after paying the required fare and taking a seat. Her actions lead to a boycott of city buses which lasted 381 days[17][18][19].

File:New Zion BC, Organizing Site of the SCLC.jpg
New Zion BC: Site of the organizing meeting of the SCLC in New Orleans where Dr. King was elected President

On Thursday morning, January 10, 1957, Dr. King, Rev. Abernathy, Fredrick Lee “Fred” Shuttlesworth, Bayard Rustin and Charles K. Steele were advised of six pre-dawn explosions of four churches and two homes in Montgomery, Alabama[20][21]. The explosions hit Bell Street Baptist, Hutchinson Street Baptist, First Street Baptist and Mount Olive Baptist Church; and the homes of pastors, Rev. Abernathy and Rev. Robert Graetz, two leaders in the long-fought movement against segregation. The damaged churches were used for community gatherings and meetings of the protesters in the movement. Dr. King, whose home was later bombed, asserted that “there can be no social gain without individual pain[22].” One of the homes bombed belonged to Ralph and Juanita Abernathy. Dr. King and Abernathy rushed from Atlanta back to Montgomery. The leaders gathered in Atlanta vowed to carry on their struggle for civil rights even in the face of death. It was also decided that an organizing meeting would be held in New Orleans, Louisiana the following month.

Dr. King had a very close relationship with New Orleanians Joseph Verret, Marcus Neustadter, Constant Charles Dejoie, Sr., Rev. Abraham Lincoln Davis, Jr., and Dr. Leonard Burns. They were all a part of the rally at the Coliseum Arena located[23]. In spite of inclement weather, more than two-thousand gathered to hear Dr. King speak – demonstrating the commitment of the citizenry to the movement. One local newspaper published an article on January 19, 1957 announced: “Bus Boycott Leader: Rev. M.L. King To Speak Here Feb. 1” According to the article, “The Presentation of Dr. King to the citizenry of New Orleans, Louisiana by the United Clubs, Incorporated on Friday, February 1, 1957 will mark the climax of a spirited drive by this young group black out Carnival activities and entertainment in general this year[24]. Rev. King, dynamic leader of the very successful bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama and one of the most admired religious leaders in the world, will speak at the Coliseum Arena, 401 North Roman Street in New Orleans at 6:00 PM.”

Early Collaborations: National Beauty Culturalist League[edit]

Also, in August of 1957, Kathleen E. “Katie” Wickham, President of the National Beauty Culturalist League, Inc., located at 2100 Dryades Street in New Orleans, who invited Dr. King to speak at the League’s 38th Annual Convention[25][26]. The Convention was held at Booker T. Washington Senior High School (Dr. King was a 1944 graduate of Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, Georgia at age 15) at 1201 South Roman Street. Washington High was the public school system’s preeminent vocational technical training outlet. The school graduated cosmetologists, carpenters, auto repair experts, welders, horticulturalist and other vocational and technical specialists. Dr. King spoke on “The Role of Beauticians in the Struggle for Freedom.” King said: “I am not too optimistic to believe that integration is ‘just around the corner.’ We have come a long, long way and we still have a long way to go, but we must keep moving in spite of the delay tactics used by segregationists[27].” King received the organization’s Civil Rights Award at the event.

In a letter to Wickham, Dr. King wrote: “As you probably know, we have a new organization in the south known as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of which I am serving as president[28]. This organization has tremendous possibilities. We have already received enthusiastic support from leaders all across the south. Our basic aim is to implement the desegregation decision of the Supreme Court on the local level through nonviolent means. At present, we are in the midst of intensifying our drive to get folk out to vote. It is our hope that through our efforts and those of other organizations, we will be able to double the number of Negro registered voters by 1960. Wickham joined the National SCLC Executive Committee in October 1958 and was elected as the Assistant Secretary in 1959 in Tallahassee, Florida, following the resignation of Medgar Riley Evers of Jackson, Mississippi[29]. About four year years later, Medgar Evers was killed in his driveway returning home from work. In addition, Katie Wickham was a member of the NAACP and the first chair of the New Orleans Metropolitan Women’s Voters League. She led numerous voter registration campaigns throughout the region. Dr. King was invited by Wickham to attend the national meeting the following year but he respectfully declined opting to send Ella J. Baker in his place.

Dr. King was a frequent visitor to the renowned Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans. The late Edgar Lawrence “Dooky” and wife Leyah “Leah” Lange Chase, whose family restaurant was a safe harbor during the modern civil rights movement and host to local and national civil rights leaders[30]. Dr. King often came to Dooky Chase’s for meetings and to organize and get a good meal. Other locations in New Orleans where Dr. King spoke included: The Chapel at Dillard University; Union Bethel A.M.E. Church at 2321 Thalia Street; and the International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA) at 2700 South Claiborne Avenue.

Dr. King Visit Northern Louisiana[edit]

Northern Louisiana was the home of Dr. Cuthbert Ormond Simpkins, Sr.[31], professional dentist, civic leader and activist in the struggle for civil rights. Dr. Simpkins focused on the many injustices involving voter engagement, particularly, voter registration, education and active voter participation. He was the primary founder in the establishment of the United Christian Conference on Registration and Voting, which assisted in voter engagement. Dr. C.O. Simpkins was considered a civil rights icon in Northern Louisiana area, a veteran, civic leader, and founding member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

On August 14, 1958, in an address at Shreveport's Galilee Baptist Church[32], Dr. King recognized the tremendous impact that Dr. Simpkins was having on the movement. He opened his inspirational presentation with words of encouragement and thanks for Dr. Simpkins’ leadership.

“Distinguished pulpit associates, my Christian friends. I need not cause to say how very delighted I am to be here this evening and to be a part of this occasion. I have long wanted to come to Shreveport and I have long admired the courageous work that is being done here. And so to be here and see it first hand and to meet the citizens of this community is a great privilege and a great opportunity for me. I want to commend the leaders of this community, the leaders of your Christian Association here for the great work that has already been done and the great work that will be done in the future. I want to commend these ministers. Now I have had the good fortune of working with many of your minsters in our Southern Christian Leadership Conference and it is a great honor and great privilege to work with them and to see their dedication and their devotion to the cause of freedom. Then I have had the good fortune of working with Dr. Simpkins also in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I haven’t lived very long but the few years that I have lived I have met quite a few people. I can say to you very sincerely that Dr. Simpkins is one of the most dedicated and devoted persons that I know in this whole area of freedom and civil rights. Then I want to say this too, I will say it because it needs to be said. Dr. Simpkins is a unique person. In the sense that he doesn’t have to do what he does he is relatively comfortable I would imagine. He is a professional man. Some of our professional people get in comfortable positions and they forget about the masses. But I have seen him time and time again; leave his office, leave a day’s work when he could make a good sum of money. Close his office to come to meetings at Southern Christian Leadership Conference and help men and women solve problems that they are facing every day. Now I think this is a commendable thing and something that you should be proud of in having a man like that in your community. How marvelous it is though that C.O. Simpkins and others cast in the same mold day by day risk all because they have an abiding faith that America can realize the democratic potential despite the terror in the South. Can we ever repay them enough?”

Dr. Simpkins’ home and office were also firebombed, but he never wavered. He continued to advocate for Civil Rights and Voting Rights until his death is 2019. Also serving in the Northern Louisiana - Shreveport area were Rev. Harry Blake and Robert Parris “Bob” Moses[33], a recruiter for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Now, a National Historical Site, Galilee Baptist Church was built by slaves and was used by Dr. King as a platform of encouragement and perseverance.

From the cotton fields of Northeast Louisiana, to the mission field in Shreveport, Rev. Harry Blake [34]has lived his life with a plan. In the early years, he worked with Dr. King and his staff for 4 years and says he's planned every stage of his life. Rev. Blake was the target of assassin's bullets, beaten, and jailed. His fight for civil rights and for individuals in Northern Louisiana came with great sacrifice. Rev. Blake often stated, “The price of equality is high; we made some changes in Shreveport, however I don't know if it was worth sacrificing my family. I'll just leave it like that." Once, Rev. Blake was shot by a hitchhiker in Alexandria, Louisiana who he stopped to help. The attending doctors stated that the bullet went through his liver, his lung and nipped his kidney, and missed Rev. Blake’s heart. He served as Field Secretary, an early National SCLC Officer. He also served as pastor of Mount Canaan Missionary Baptist Church in Shreveport for more than fifty years[35].

New Orleans Gift of “Song” to Civil Rights[edit]

The undisputed “Queen of Gospel,” Mahalia “Halie” Jackson was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 26, 1911. Jackson grew up in the Carrolton-Hollygrove section of the City in a neighborhood appropriately called the Black Pearl. The classic uptown New Orleans style “shotgun” home housed over a dozen people and a pet. Her mother died when she was about five years old and in the tradition of many African American homes, Jackson went to live with her aunt, Mahala Clark-Paul[36][37]. At a National Baptist Convention in August of 1956, Jackson met Rev. Ralph Abernathy who introduced her to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Months later, they asked her to assist them in a fun-raiser by singing at a rally in Montgomery, Alabama for the bus boycott. Jackson lived with the Abernathy’s while in Alabama. The concert was on December 6, 1956 and raised a significant amount of money to support the cause. In a landmark case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation was unconstitutional. However, the ruling was not implemented with all deliberate speed. When Jackson returned to the Abernathy’s home, it had been bombed[38].

The Detroit Council on Human Rights sponsored an event on June 23, 1963, where over 125, 000 people gathered at Cobo Arena in Michigan to hear Dr. King speak[39]. In addition to Officers of the SCLC, Jackson was also there as a supporter. It was the culmination of the Detroit Walk to Freedom which was the precursor to the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was there that Dr. King first spoke about the “Dream.” Two month later, as Dr. King spoke to the largest crowd of Civil Rights Activist in the history of the United States. At one point near his close, New Orleans native Mahalia Jackson shouted “tell them about the Dream Martin, tell them about the Dream!” Dr. King heard the melodious voice of his friend and began what became known as the “I Have a Dream” speech[40]! Had New Orleans native decided not to speak,… New Orleans gift of song to Civil Rights!

Southern Negroes Leaders Conference[edit]

Initially, the group was called the Southern Negro Leaders Conference. The meeting was called to order with worship on Thursday, January 10, 1957 at 2:00 PM by Rev. S.S. Seay, Sr. “On January 10, 1957, about 50 Southern leaders gathered in Atlanta, Georgia to share and discuss their mutual problems of the Southern struggle.” The primary focus was the idea of a regional organization to fight injustices in segregated transportation. The name was changed from Southern Negroes Leaders Conference to the Southern Leadership Conference on Transportation and Nonviolent Integration. It was decided that a permanent group should be organized[41]. “Two months later, close on the heels of the successful Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, SCLC came into being, in New Orleans, Louisiana.” The organization meeting was held in the City of New Orleans at New Zion Baptist Church, lead by Rev. Abraham Lincoln Davis, Jr., the Southern Leadership Conference on Transportation and Nonviolent Integration was ultimately organized into the Southern Leadership Conference, soon afterwards expanded to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

On January 10, 1957, a group of about fifty clergy met in Atlanta, Georgia following the Montgomery Boycott and the formation of the Montgomery Improvement Association. Although neither Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. nor Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy was in attendance, the group decided that there was a need for an organization with a national scope to address non-violently problems and concerns with discriminatory practices in interstate transportation. About two weeks later, on Friday, January 25, 1957, prior to the organization of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. King traveled to New Orleans to develop a plan to organize a national organization. Dr. King spoke at the Coliseum Arena to over two thousand “tried and true souls” in what was described as severely inclement weather. Joining Dr. King were Dr. Leonard Burns (President of United Clubs, Inc.), Joseph Verret (Vice President, United Clubs), Rev. Abraham Lincoln Davis, Jr.(Pastor, New Zion B.C.), Constant C. Dejoie, Jr., (Publisher: The Louisiana Weekly) C.A. Laws, Marcus Neustadter, and Atty. Belford Lawson of Washington, D.C. Twenty days later, clergy and civic leaders met at Pastor Abraham L. Davis, Jr. church in New Orleans at New Zion Baptist Church, 2319 Third Street, to organize.

Augustine: Lawyer, Activist, Judge[edit]

Dr. King recognized the importance of legal assistance and counsel and tapped Attorney Israel Meyer Augustine, Jr. as the first Legal Counsel and Co-founder of SCLC. Atty. Augustine was born in New Orleans on November 16, 1924. He received a B.A. degree from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and obtained his juris doctorate degree from Lincoln University in St. Louis, Missouri. Atty. Augustine was admitted to the Louisiana Bar in 1951 and in 1962, he was allowed to practice before the United States Supreme Court[42].

Israel Augustine became the first African American in Louisiana elected as a Criminal District Court Judge. A year later, he presided over the Black Panther Trial in New Orleans, a case that brought national attention to both New Orleans and Judge Augustine. He established several community programs such as the First Offender; Angola Awareness; and the "Roots" Homecoming Program. Judge Augustine was considered a champion of the people[43]. Judge Augustine died on August 29, 1994 of Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) and was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery. Israel Meyer Augustine Middle School in Orleans Parish is named after him. In 1996, the Orleans Criminal District Court was renamed the Israel M. Augustine Criminal Justice Center.

“Chink” Henry: Adding Labor to the Flavor[edit]

From its inception, both collaborations and affiliations have been an important focus of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. This was evidenced by the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom[44]. Six organizations came together to coordinate this historic event. Together, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.), the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (B.S.C.P.), Urban League (U.L.), Congress of Racial Equality (C.O.R.E.), Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (S.N.C.C.), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (S.C.L.C.), planned the largest direct action non-violent demonstration in the history of the United States.

On an early visit to Louisiana, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. met the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 3000 President and SCLC Co-founder Clarence “Chink” Henry. On September 21, 1959, Dr. King spoke at a mass meeting at the International Longshoremen's Association Union Hall Auditorium in New Orleans, sponsored by the SCLC New Orleans (LA) Chapter. The newly constructed art-deco ILA building was located at 2700 South Claiborne Avenue at the corner of Washington Avenue[45]. The ILA building had construction costs of $500,000. The design was like no other in the New Orleans area. It was topped with an elaborate exterior truss system (which somewhat resembled the super-structure on a cargo ship) and its sides were sheathed in Vermont Verde, an exotic deep-green serpentine marble with white markings. President Henry invited the SCLC New Orleans Chapter to meet at the ILA and the Civil Rights movement found a home there. The area from South Claiborne Avenue and Washington Avenue to Washington and LaSalle Street was the epicenter of direct-action and the struggle for Civil Rights in the metro area[46].

Rev. Davis Makes Historical Invitation[edit]

Rev. Abraham Lincoln Davis, Sr. was the Pastor of New Zion Baptist Church and Co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was the first African American member of the New Orleans City Council. An early organizer of sit‐ins and other nonviolent protests, Rev. Davis served as an Executive Committee Member of the SCLC when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was president. According to Rev. Dr. Samson “Skip” Alexander, “When Dr. King first scheduled the organizational meeting in New Orleans, he selected the Municipal Auditorium but there was a lot of push back by city officials[47]. Rev. Davis contacted Dr. King and invited him to New Zion Baptist Church in Central City (New Orleans). Pleased by invitation, nearly one-hundred clergy and community leaders gathered to organize the Southern Leadership Conference.

Rev. Davis was born in Bayou Goula (Iberville Parish), Louisiana and moved to New Orleans in 1930 to live with a sister and attend high school. He received a B.A. degree from Leland College in New Orleans and earned a theological degree from Union Baptist Theological Seminary. He became the Pastor of New Zion Baptist Church in 1935 and served in that position for forty-three years[48]. In 1961 Mayor de Lesseps S. Morrison of New Orleans appointed Rev. Davis as the city's first director of race relations. He was later named to Louisiana's first Commission on Race Relations, Rights and Responsibilities. He was the Chairman of several city agencies and political groups. In 1975, he was appointed to the District "B" seat on the City Council to fill the unexpired term of Councilman Eddie Sapir, who had been elected judge of Municipal Court. Rev. Davis was elected to the seat in 1976. Due to a redistricting dispute, which had delayed the 1974 elections until 1976, the council members elected in 1976 served until 1978, when a regularly scheduled election was held and Rev. Davis optioned not to run for re-election in 1978.

Davis was actively involved in politics and civil rights in New Orleans, establishing the Orleans Parish Progressive Voters League (OPPVL) in 1949, became a founding member and second vice president of SCLC, and was heavily involved in the New Orleans merchant boycotts and sit-ins of the early 1960s. He was a close political ally of former New Orleans Mayors deLesseps “Chep” Morrison and Victor H. Schiro, as well as Louisiana Governor John J. McKeithen. In a tribute to Rev. Davis, Mayor Morrison said, “New Orleans has lost a rare citizen, one who made lasting contributions both spiritually and politically.” Rev. Abraham Lincoln Davis died on June 25, 1978 at the age of 63 of pancreatic cancer and was buried in Bayou Goula, Louisiana[49].

Organizing the Southern Leadership Conference[edit]

File:Lemuel Brown n Levon LeBan.jpg
President Lemuel Brown of SCLC Macon-Bibb (GA) Chapter with President Rev. Dr. Levon A. LeBan of SCLC New Orleans (LA) Chapter at the 2018 MLK Education Series Presentation

The organization meeting was held in the City of New Orleans at New Zion Baptist Church, where Rev. Abraham Lincoln Davis, Jr. served as Pastor, the Southern Leadership Conference on Transportation and Nonviolent Integration was organized into the Southern Leadership Conference (SCLC). According to Garrow (1986) [50] and to a SCLC brochure, the Elected Officers, Executive Board Members and Staff included: President, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (GA); First Vice President, Charles Kenzie Steele, Sr. (FL); Second Vice President, Rev. Abraham Lincoln Davis, Jr. (LA); Third Vice President, Rev. Samuel Woodrow Williams (GA); Fourth Vice President, Dr. Cuthbert Ormond Simpkins, Sr. (LA); Secretary, Rev. Fredrick Lee “Fred” Shuttlesworth (AL); Treasurer, Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy (AL); Chaplain, Rev. Kelly Miller Smith (TN); Historian, Dr. Lawrence Dunbar Reddick (MD); and Legal Counsel, Atty. Israel Meyer Augustine (LA). EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBERS: Rev. Henry C. Bunton (TN), Rev. W.A. Dennis (TN), R.L. Drew (MS), Rev. Edward T. Graham (FL), Rev. Walter L. Hamilton (VA), Rev. W.L. Hall (GA), Aaron E. Henry (MS), Clarence Henry (LA), Rev. Benjamin Lawson Hooks, Esq. (TN), Rev. Dearing E. King, Sr. (KY), Rev. Martin L. King, Sr. (GA), Isaac Samuel Levy (S.C.), Rev. Matthew D. McCollom (S.C.), Rev. Solomon Snowden Seay, Sr. (AL), Rev. R.B. Shorts (GA), W.E. Shortridge (AL), Rev. Nelson H. Smith (AL), Rev. Roland Smith (AR), Rev. Daniel B. Speed (FL), Rev. Melvin Chester Swann (N.C.), and Rev. R.G. Williams (VA). Rev. Theodore Judson Jemison (LA) also served on the Executive Board. The 1957 SCLC STAFF: Executive Director, Rev. Dr. John Lee Tilley (MD); Public Relations Director, James R. Wood; Staff Consultant, Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr. (TN); and, Field Secretary, Rev. Harry Blake (LA). Medger Wiley Evers (MS) was appointed in March Assistant Secretary and held the position briefly for several months before resigning. The position of Assistant Secretary was filled by Kathleen "Katie" Wickham (LA).

Other early members were: Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. (GA), Rev. Fredrick “Fred” Shuttlesworth (AL), Rev. Cordy Trindell Vivian (MO), Dr. Dorothy Foreman Cotton (VA), Rev. Alfred Daniel William King, Sr. (GA), Bayard Rustin (PA), Ella Josephine Baker (NY), Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker (VA), and Rev. Joseph Echols Lowery (GA).

SCLC New Orleans (LA) Chapter TODAY[edit]

File:SCLC New Orleans Chapter receives Louisiana Senate recognition.jpg
SCLC New (LA) Orleans Chapter receives recognition from the Louisiana State Senate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana sponsored by Honorable Senator Troy A. Carter, LA District 7

With the motto: “Redeeming the Soul of America,” the current areas of focus of the SCLC New Orleans Chapter are: education; criminal justice; economic sustainability; and healthcare. Specifically, the Chapter has aggressively engaged in Voter Engagement to include registration, education, and active participation[51][52]. Each Wednesday during the month of February, the Chapter conducts voter registration, education and mobilization in under-served areas in the city. In addition, voter registration takes place every third Saturday before and after meetings, The Justice for Girls Committee centers on assisting young girls to reach their greatest potential. The SCLC New Orleans Chapter partnered with the Peace Keepers of New Orleans to receive community engagement training. Another activity is with the Louisiana Region of the American Red Cross, assisting with the “Sound the Alarm” Campaign which educates residents on the importance of having an escape plan in the event of a fire and to provide free smoke detectors. Several members are active volunteers with the American Red Cross. The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America’s guest presenters has partnered to educate our membership and the community in home ownership and low-cost mortgages. Finally, the Chapter initiated a “keep replica toy guns from our children” campaign. That campaign seeks to eliminate[53] “realistic-looking” toy guns from area stores AND homes.

On April 4, 2019, at a SCLC New Orleans Chapter Memorial Program hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New Orleans, Senior Advisor to the Mayor, Julius Feltus stated: "Most organizations are organizations on paper only, NOT the SCLC New Orleans Chapter.  I've been to several programs this year and they are really serving the community!

We feel the issue of economic disparity is an issue that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be fighting against today, as he did with the creation of, Operation Breadbasket, the Poor People’s Campaign, and other similar programs. SCLC New Orleans Chapter will continue in the tradition of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., by developing and partnering with programs organizations that will close the economic gap, enhance the education of our youth, address employment & stimulate economic development within all communities.

Integrity Accountability Leadership[edit]

The Officers and Executive Committee of the SCLC New Orleans Chapter are: President, Rev. Dr. Levon A. LeBan; Board Chair, Florida Carr Hargrove; 1st Vice President, Rev. Dr. Leon Tilton, Jr.; 2nd Vice President, Bishop Willie Littleton; 3rd Vice President, Honorable Rev. Dr. Glenn Green; Secretary, Gwendolyn Hardy DuPree; Treasurer, Theodore H. George, Sr.; Parliamentarian Jake Hardy; Rev. Adam Lee; Alice Lewis; Rev. Dr. Ernest Marcelle, Jr.; Maria Sly George; Ronald Charles Coleman, Sr.; and Bernice Johnson.

SCLC New Orleans (LA) Presidents[edit]

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., February 1957-1958
Rev. Abraham Lincoln Davis, 1958-1978
Rev. Dr. Simmie Lee Harvey, 1978-2008 [54]
Rev. Dr. Norwood Thompson, Jr., 2008-2017 [55]


1. T.J. Jemison. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._J._Jemison
2. Baton Rouge bus boycott. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baton_Rouge_bus_boycott
3. Baton Rouge bus boycott’s role in Civil Rights Movement commemorated with bench, plaque at McKinley High. http://www.lpb.org/index.php?/site/programs/signpost_to_freedom_the_1953_baton_rouge_bus_boycott
4. Baton Rouge Bus Boycott (1953). http://www.blackpast.org/aah/baton-rouge-bus-boycott-1953
5. Rev. T. J. Jemison, Civil Rights Leader Who Organized Early Boycott, Dies at 95. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/23/us/rev-t-j-jemison-civil-rights-pioneer-dies-at-95.html
6. From T. J. Jemison. https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/t-j-jemison
7. Rev. T.J. Jemison Remembered As Civil Rights Movement Pioneer. https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2013/11/22/246731897/rev-t-j-jemison-remembered-as-civil-rights-movement-pioneer
8. Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/montgomery-improvement-association-mia
9. ABOUT THE MIA. http://www.montgomeryimprovementassociation.org/
10. Ralph D. Abernathy Biography. https://www.biography.com/people/ralph-d-abernathy-9174397
11. E.D. Nixon Biography. https://www.biography.com/people/ed-nixon-21308863
12. Little Known Black History Fact: Edgar ‘E.D.’ Nixon. https://blackamericaweb.com/2015/07/13/little-known-black-history-fact-edgar-e-d-nixon/
13. Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/montgomery-improvement-association-mia
14. Rosa Parks. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosa_Parks
15. Biography: Rosa Parks. https://www.biography.com/activist/rosa-parks
16. ROSA PARKS. https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/rosa-parks
17. ROSA LOUISE PARKS BIOGRAPHY. http://www.rosaparks.org/biography/
18. Before Rosa Parks, There Was Claudette Colvin. https://www.npr.org/2009/03/15/101719889/before-rosa-parks-there-was-claudette-colvin
19. On this day in Alabama history: Montgomery churches, ministers’ homes bombed. https://alabamanewscenter.com/2018/01/10/day-alabama-history-jan-10/
20. PHOTO: January 10, 1957: Six pre-dawn bombings in Montgomery. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/235313149251208671/
21. The Life and Times of Martin Luther King, Jr. https://www.google.com/search?ei=QYTBXrKsGtG- ggeIjbfwAw&q=january+1957+six+bombs+in+montgomery&oq=january+1957+six+bombs+in+montgomery&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQDFCewAFYmc0BYPfkAWgAcAB4AIABSogBwQKSAQE1mAEAoAEBqgEHZ3dzLXdpeg&sclient=psy-ab&ved=0ahUKEwjy0L2ixbvpAhVRn-AKHYjGDT4Q4dUDCAw
22. Rally: The United Clubs, Inc. http://www.bu.edu/dbin/mlkjr/collection/search.php?query=path:56324//subj:52045&size=25
23. Blake Pontchartrain: MLK in New Orleans. https://www.bestofneworleans.com/gambit/blake-pontchartrain-mlk-in-new-orleans/Content?oid=7051129
24. King speaks at United Clubs rally in New Orleans Coliseum Arena. https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/king-speaks-united-clubs-rally-new-orleans-coliseum-arena
25. Program, The Role of Beauticians in the Contemporary Struggle for Freedom. http://okra.stanford.edu/en/list?q=name%3A(Whickam%2C+Katie+E.+%5BNational+Beauty+Culturists+League%2C+Inc.%5D)&p=1&ps=
26. Program: 38th Annual Convention, National Beauty Culturists' League, Inc. & National Institute of Cosmetology, New Orleans, La. http://www.bu.edu/dbin/mlkjr/collection/search.php?query=path:56324//subj:52045&size=25
27. Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women's Activism. https://books.google.com/books?id=aAQAkpyzmZYC&pg=PA160&lpg=PA160&dq=mlk+speaks+at+national+beauty+culturist+league&source=bl&ots=yQVYXiS6OD&sig=ACfU3U1qstz96IbYAcMM2Bmxj7RvXDEbUw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjKn8ml1LvpAhUhhuAKHbk1DBwQ6AEwBXoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=mlk%20speaks%20at%20national%20beauty%20culturist%20league&f=false
28. Statement Adopted at Spring Session of SCLC in Tallahassee, Florida. https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/statement-adopted-spring-session-sclc-tallahassee-florida
29. The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Volume V. https://books.google.com/books?id=TU_HozbJSC8C&pg=PA205&lpg=PA205&dq=katie+wickham+sclc&source=bl&ots=TYv8fDzzYU&sig=ACfU3U27nIpsbQ8wbCjKi_ExTbzEpAaeyw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj8i4bY2bvpAhWCdN8KHeOYA74Q6AEwA3oECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=katie%20wickham%20sclc&f=false
30. Leah Chase and Dooky Chase Civil Rights Movement. https://gonola.com/features/queen-creole-fed-civil-rights-movement
31. C.O. Simpkins is a Civil Rights Champion. http://www.cosimpkins.com/Activities/MLK/
32. King speaks at Galilee Baptist Church in Shreveport. https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/king-speaks-galilee-baptist-church-shreveport
33. Robert Parris Moses: A Life in Civil Rights and Leadership. https://books.google.com/books?id=Ds43CwAAQBAJ&pg=PA49&lpg=PA49&dq=robert+moses+shreveport+louisiana&source=bl&ots=MwWjWKD5mo&sig=ACfU3U1Es1-D0_Nq9yYtOQAuUNW5-J1Yag&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj5iLKZ4LvpAhVNdt8KHVQ6CUEQ6AEwBHoECAsQAQ#v=onepage&q=robert%20moses%20shreveport%20louisiana&f=false
34. The Rev. Dr. Harry Blake Oral History Interview. https://nmaahc.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2011.174.107.1a-d
35. Rev. Harry Blake, Louisiana civil rights icon from Shreveport, dies at 85: 'He was a giant. https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/coronavirus/article_a327feb6-7b6d-11ea-8111-4f441e4407e0.html
36. Mahalia Jackson – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahalia_Jackson
37. Mahalia Jackson, the Queen of Gospel, puts her stamp on the March on Washington. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/mahalia-jackson-the-queen-of-gospel-puts-her-stamp-on-the-march-on-washington
38. Mahalia Jackson - Singer, Civil Rights Activist, Television. https://www.biography.com/musician/mahalia-jackson
39. Address at the Freedom Rally in Cobo Hall. https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/address-freedom-rally-cobo-hall'
40. The woman who inspired Martin Luther King's “I Have a Dream” speech. https://www.vox.com/2016/1/18/10785882/martin-luther-king-dream-mahalia-jackson
41. Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The Easton Press (1986), p. 90. ISBN:9780060566920.
42. A first for Louisiana's court, Israel Augustine Jr. https://aaregistry.org/story/a-first-for-louisianas-bench-israel-augustine-jr/
43. Man in the News. https://www.nytimes.com/1971/07/10/archives/judge-in-panther-trial-israel-myer-augustine-jr.html
44. CARRYING THE FREIGHT: Tales of Longshoremen’s Local 3000. https://www.myneworleans.com/carrying-the-freight/
45. Prominent civil rights organization was founded in New Orleans 60 years ago this week. https://www.nola.com/news/article_596e8ef0-c506-5fba-9d0a-c1532903ca1f.html
46. Reverend Samson “Skip” Alexander: An Eyewitness to History & Much More. https://theneworleanstribune.com/reverend-samson-skip-alexander-an-eyewitness-to-history-much-more/
47. REV. ABRAHAM “A.L” LINCOLN DAVIS: A FOUNDER OF THE SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE (SCLC). https://blackthen.com/rev-abraham-l-lincoln-davis-founder-southern-christian-leadership-conference-sclc/
48. Rev. A. L. Davis; Founded Rights Unit With Dr. King in'57. https://www.nytimes.com/1978/06/26/archives/rev-al-davis-founded-rights-unit-with-dr-king-in-57.html
49. A.L. Davis Papers. http://amistadresearchcenter.tulane.edu/archon/?p=collections/findingaid&id=226&q=&rootcontentid=84988
50. Bearing the Cross: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The Easton Press (1986). ISBN:9780060566920.
51. Cathelean Steele Keynotes SCLC New Orleans Chapter First Annual Symposium on Human Trafficking. http://www.sclcmagazine.com/assets/sclc-magazine-w19-online.pdf
52. Dr. Dwight McKenna Honored by SCLC. New Orleans Tribune (2019, Volume 35, Number 4). https://theneworleanstribune.com/2019/04/26/dr-dwight-mckenna-honored-by-sclc-new-orleans/
53. SCLC New Orleans Chapter: At the Cross. http://www.sclcmagazine.com/assets/sclc-magazine-mlk-birthday-2020.pdf
54. Simmie L. Harvey, 90; Civil Rights Leader. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/19/AR2008091903890.html?noredirect=on
55. Rev. Norwood Thompson, longtime SCLC leader, dies. http://www.louisianaweekly.com/rev-norwood-thompson-longtime-sclc-leader-dies/


  • History of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 1955-1965: the Evolution of a Southern Strategy for Social Change by Eugene P Walker. University Microfilms International, 1980. RARE.
  • Interviews With Civil Rights Workers from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), by Stanford University Project South Oral History Collection. Microfilming Corp. of America (1975) RARE.
  • I Will Not Be Silent and I Will Be Heard: Martin Luther King, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, J. Tracy Power, Judith M. Brimelow. South Carolina Department of Archives & History, 1993. RARE.
  • Parting the Waters, America in the King Years 1954-1963, Taylor Branch. Simon & Schuster, 1988. Volume One of Pulitzer Prize winning history of the Movement. Including the Movement's early years from Montgomery bus boycott, the Sit- ins and Freedom Rides, the Albany, Birmingham, and St. Augustine Movements, the March on Washington, and much more. See also Pillar of Fire and At Canaan's Edge.
  • Records of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 1954-1970, by Randolph Boehm, Blair Hydrick, University Publications of America Staff, Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Publisher: University Publications of America, 1995.
  • To Redeem the Soul of America: the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Martin Luther King Jr., by Adam Fairclough. University of Georgia Press, 2001.
  • Keeping the Dream Alive: A History of SCLC from King to the Nineteen-Eighties, by Thomas R. Peake. Peter Lang Publications, 1987.
  • Marching Toward Freedom 1957-1965: From the Founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to the Assassination of Malcom X (Milestones in Black American History) by Robert Weisbrot. Chelsea House Publications, 1994. From the lunch-counter sit-ins to the March to Montgomery, tells the story of the Movement. Recommended for: Grades 6-12.
  • Strength to Love. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1963. This is a collection of Dr. King’s most requested sermons.
  • Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1958. Dr. King’s first book; the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the beginning of the Nonviolent Civil Rights Movement.
  • The Trumpet of Conscience. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1968. (Foreword by Coretta Scott King.) This book is taken from the 1967 Massey Lectures which King gave through the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. King addresses issues including the Vietnam War, youth and civil disobedience and concludes with the “Christmas Sermon for Peace.”(br>
  • Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1967. An assessment of America’s priorities and a warning that they need to be re-ordered.
  • Why We Can’t Wait. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1963. The essential writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., James M. Washington, ed.

Additional Reading[edit]

External Links[edit]

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