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Resolutions, First Southwide Institute on Nonviolent Resistance to Segregation held on 22 July-24 July 1959

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Author: Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Date: August 11, 1959

Location: Atlanta, Ga.

Genre: Manifesto

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Political and Social Views



Sixty ministers and activists attended the institute at Atlanta’s Spelman College and heard addresses by such advocates of nonviolence as King, William Stuart Nelson, Richard Gregg, and James Lawson.1 The following resolutions were approved at the conclusion of the gathering, which was sponsored by SCLC, FOR, and CORE.2

1. We thank President [Albert] Manley, the faculty and staff of Spelman College for so graciously opening its facilities to our institute.
2. The Institute re-affirms our dedication to the principles and practices of nonviolent resistance as the supreme instrument of social change.
3. We recommend that this institute be held annually and that similar institutes and workshops should be held nationally, regionally, and locally as the opportunity arises. We call upon the sponsoring organizations to initiate plans to implement this resolution.3
4. We commend the several local organizations who have been engaged in nonviolent direct action projects.
5. We commend the 50th Anniversary Convention of the NAACP for reaffirming its position of rejecting the use of violence in securing social change.4
We urge the sponsoring organizations to produce a handbook on: The Principles and Techniques of Nonviolence, as related to social change in race relations.
We recognize the importance of legislation as an instrument of social change, and the use of constitutional procedures. We further recognize the responsibility of a democracy to insure the equal rights of all citizens. We therefore call upon the Congress and the President to support and implement the desegregation decisions of the Supreme Court.
We make common cause with the oppressed and submerged peoples of the world-particularly the unfreed peoples of Africa and the former “untouchables” of India. We call upon them to adhere to the principles of nonviolence in our common world struggle.
9. We call upon organizations active in the field of social action and civil rights to initiate plans for a nation-wide demonstration against all forms of racial discriminations and segregations.

1. SCLC, Press release, 3 July-22 July 1959. For King’s handwritten draft of the program, see King, “Proposed schedule for Institute on Nonviolent Resistance to Segregation,” 22 July 1959. According to MIA secretary H.J. Palmer’s notes from the proceedings, King applauded the participation of women activists and distinguished the civil rights movement from struggles in other countries for “we must live with” the opposition (Palmer, Notes, Program on First Southwide Institute on Nonviolent Resistance to Segregation, 22 July-24 July 1959). For an additional account of the meeting, see Reddick, “Report, Nonviolent Institute,” 22 July-24 July 1959.

2. Those in attendance also approved a statement that pledged the group’s adherence “to the practice of Christian love and nonviolence, not simply as a tactical measure, but always moving towards it as an all embracing rule of conduct“ (SCLC, “Manifesto, Institute on Nonviolent Resistance to Segregation, 7/22/1959-7/24/1959,” 11 August 1959).

3. SCLC held a second institute the following year (SCLC, Program, “Second Statewide Institute on Nonviolent Resistance to Segregation,” 4 August-5 August 1960). SCLC also co-sponsored a number of regional workshops and institutes over the next several months.

4. The preamble to the NAACP’s convention resolutions rejected violence as a strategy for challenging segregation but reaffirmed the right to self-defense (NAACP, “Fiftieth annual convention resolutions,” 13 July-19 July 1959).

Source: MLKJP-GAMK, Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers (Series I-IV), Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Inc., Atlanta, Ga. Box 33, Folder 7. 

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