Another major accomplishment of Martin Luther was the institution of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), an American civil rights organization in 1957. The organization aimed at supporting the philosophy of non-violence. It was led by King as the President along with Ralph Abernathy and other activists. As an dedicated believer of the Gandhi’s principles of non-violence, and enforced the non-violent techniques in the protests organized by SCLC.
It was 6 years later that King organised a march through Birmingham, Alabama his aim was to expose the segregation that still existed in the ex-confederate states at this time. King’s tactics of non-violence protest were met by the full force of the white racists and police led by Bull Connor, who authorised the use of dogs and water hoses. This show of brutal force against the peaceful protestors was captured by the media who had followed the protest; these images were now played all over America exposing the treatment of black Americans in the southern states. The results of this protest not only began to increase the white sympathy given to the civil rights movement, but also resulted in Kennedy being forced to make Governor Wallace of Alabama release protestors and begin implementing changes towards desegregating Birmingham. However, it may be argued that as Kennedy was not a great proprietor of civil rights he only did this due to mounting pressure from the media coverage.
In the same year King also organised an even grander march on Washington, where he wanted to go and demand Kennedy pass a civil rights bill. 200,000 black Americans and 50,000 white Americans took part in this, demonstrating not only the desire for change by the black community but also the sympathy given by the white community. This reception this received in Washington also shows the open- minded and liberal attitudes some white Americans had. 2 years later King returned to Alabama to stage another march this time in Selma, again he specifically chose a location where his methods of non-violent protest would be met with brutal racism and violence allowing it to be captured by the media. As the march reached Selma protests came under attack from white racists, most being severely beaten and even being murdered from the assault which results in this being named ‘Bloody Sunday’ by the worlds media. Yet again these scenes of vicious violence shown by the media only furthered the deep sympathy of the white community to the plight of the black Americans.
Although not all of Martin Luther King’s endeavours were to be so successful, in 1961 King marched on Albany predicting that local sheriff Laurie Pritchett would retaliate with violence against the protestors. However, when King led a march of 250 protestors to City Hall all of the protestors were arrested. Pritchett handled these prisoners very courteously, which diffused the power of their non-violent protest: with no physical conflict there was no media spectacular and no national coverage. King, who had vowed to remain in jail until demands were met, left when City authorities made various promises. But these were deceiving. For example, the city of Albany promised to desegregate bus and rail terminals as if in response to the protests, even though legislation already required this. And the City circumvented further promises of desegregation by shutting down the public institutions that were in question.
In 1965, King organised his 3rd march in Alabama however this was to start in Selma and end in Birmingham two locations he had previously marched in and received highly violent responses both times. This time it was half way through the march that it was ended, when King compromised with authorities who were protecting protestors to turn the march around and go back. Not only did the idea of this march to raise voting registration in some of the lowest areas of the south, but it also lost King a large majority of the black extremists. As they were becoming increasingly frustrated with the movement, and saw King compromised with the authorities as a surrender and sign of weakness. It was finally after King had ended de Jure segregation that he moved his focus to the northern issues, however his tactics of non-violence to gain a violent reaction would no longer work.
Martin Luther King has become synonymous with the success of the civil rights movement and this is well justified with the great impact he made in America with marches in Alabama and being the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel peace prize. Although towards the end of the campaign King also had some failures, most present upon his move to the northern states and the issues that posed for him.