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Albany Movement


Martin Luther King, Jr., made history, but he was also transformed by his deep family roots in the African-American Baptist church, his formative experiences in his hometown of Atlanta, his theological studies, his varied models of religious and political leadership, and his extensive network of contacts in the peace and social justice movements of his time. Although King was only 39 at the time of his death, his life was remarkable for the ways it reflected and inspired so many of the twentieth century’s major intellectual, cultural, and political developments.

Marshall, Burke

Burke Marshall was head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, serving from January 1961 through December 1964. Martin Luther King regularly called and wired Marshall for assistance. John Lewis, head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and other civil rights leaders were on a first name basis with Marshall. Wyatt Tee Walker, executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), woke Marshall at 1:00 A.M. to inform him of King’s arrest during the 1963 Birmingham Campaign.

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was founded in April 1960 by young people dedicated to nonviolent, direct action tactics. Although Martin Luther King, Jr. and others had hoped that SNCC would serve as the youth wing of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the students remained fiercely independent of King and SCLC, generating their own projects and strategies. Although ideological differences eventually caused SNCC and SCLC to be at odds, the two organizations worked side by side throughout the early years of the civil rights movement.

Pritchett, Laurie

As police chief of Albany, Georgia, Laurie Pritchett gained national attention when he effectively thwarted the efforts of the Albany Movement in 1961–1962. Pritchett’s nonviolent response to demonstrations, including the mass arrests of protesters and the jailing of Martin Luther King, Jr., was seen as an effective strategy in bringing the campaign to an end before the movement could secure any concrete gains.

Albany Movement

Formed on 17 November 1961 by representatives from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Ministerial Alliance, the Federation of Women’s Clubs, and the Negro Voters League, the Albany Movement conducted a broad campaign in Albany, Georgia, that challenged all forms of segregation and discrimination. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) temporarily joined the coalition, attracting national publicity to Albany. Although the Albany Movement was successful in mobilizing massive protests during December 1961 and the following summer, it secured few concrete gains.

Albany Jail Diary from 1 August–7 August 1962

In the second part of King’s diary, published on 23 August in Jet magazine, he writes about a visit from his family, particularly his three children, whom he has not seen in several weeks. The visit, King says, “certainly gave me a lift.”1 Throughout the week, he continues to attend court proceedings on the July injunction against demonstrations in Albany.


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