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Student movements

Bond, Horace Julian

Student activist Julian Bond first met Martin Luther King in 1960 when he was a student at Morehouse College. The two became better acquainted when Bond joined the small staff of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which shared an office with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In 1966, when Bond was refused his elected seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, King preached against the legislature’s action and organized a march in support of Bond.

Birmingham Campaign

In April 1963 King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) joined with Birmingham, Alabama’s existing local movement, the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR), in a massive direct action campaign to attack the city’s segregation system by putting pressure on Birmingham’s merchants during the Easter season, the second biggest shopping season of the year. As ACMHR founder Fred Shuttlesworth stated in the group’s “Birmingham Manifesto,” the campaign was “a moral witness to give our community a chance to survive” (ACMHR, 3 April 1963).

Challenor, Herschelle Sullivan

As a student at Spelman College in 1960, Herschelle Sullivan participated in the October 1960 sit-in at Rich’s, a department store in Atlanta, and was subsequently arrested with Martin Luther King. In a handwritten letter penned while King was in Fulton County Jail, he praised the female protesters, including Sullivan, arrested with him for their “intrepid courage, [their] quiet dignity, and [their] undaunted faith in the power of nonviolence.” King continued, “It is inspiring enough to see the fellows willingly accepting jail rather than bail, but when young ladies are willing to accept this type of self suffering for the cause of freedom it is both majestic and sublime” (Papers 5:528).

Carmichael, Stokely

As chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Stokely Carmichael challenged the philosophy of nonviolence and interracial alliances that had come to define the modern civil rights movement, calling instead for “Black Power.” Although critical of the “Black Power” slogan, King acknowledged that “if Stokely Carmichael now says that nonviolence is irrelevant, it is because he, as a dedicated veteran of many battles, has seen with his own eyes the most brutal white violence against Negroes and white civil rights workers, and he has seen it go unpunished” (King, 33–34).

Bevel, James Luther

Credited by Martin Luther King with initiating the Children’s Crusade during the Birmingham Campaign of 1963, James Bevel emerged as a civil rights leader from the ranks of the Nashville, Tennessee, student movement. Bevel was at King’s side during many of the major campaigns of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and was at the Lorraine Motel at the time of King’s assassination in 1968.

Bates, Daisy

Daisy Lee Gaston Bates, a civil rights advocate, newspaper publisher, and president of the Arkansas chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), advised the nine students who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. Martin Luther King offered encouragement to Bates during this period, telling her in a letter that she was “a woman whom everyone KNOWS has been, and still is in the thick of the battle from the very beginning, never faltering, never tiring” (Papers 4:446).

Baker, Ella Josephine

Rejecting Martin Luther King’s charismatic leadership, Ella Baker advised student activists organizing the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to promote “group-centered leadership” rather than the “leader-centered” style she associated with King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) (Baker, Interview by John Britton, 19 June 1968). It was this grassroots leadership that Baker credited for the success and longevity of the movement: “You see, I think that, to be very honest, the movement made Martin rather than Martin making the movement. This is not a discredit to him. This is, to me, as it should be” (Baker, Interview, 19 June 1968).


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