Georgia Historical Society Dedicates New Historical Marker Recognizing Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Staff Report

Wednesday, November 9th, 2022

The Georgia Historical Society (GHS) unveiled a new historical marker recognizing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) on Thursday, November 3, 2022, in Atlanta. In partnership with The Rich foundation, Inc. and SCLC, this historical marker is the newest addition to GHS's Georgia Civil Rights Trail. It highlights SCLC’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement by coordinating nonviolent protests in the 1960s.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was founded on January 10, 1957, by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other African-American Civil Rights leaders. During the Movement, SCLC joined local efforts throughout the South to coordinate campaigns. The organization brought visibility to the struggle for civil rights which created a foundation for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Historical markers, like the one honoring the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, provide a living, permanent education lesson connecting the Civil Rights Movement to opportunities to work towards justice today,” said Tom Asher, Chairman, The Rich Foundation.

Today, the National SCLC Headquarters stands on historic Auburn Avenue in Atlanta. Prior to the Civil Rights Movement, the Avenue was the center of African-American life in Atlanta. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on the street and preached at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he and his co-founders created SCLC. SCLC continues to be a nonviolent social activist organization dedicated to fighting against social and racial injustices.

“We appreciate the acknowledgement, but we do this work because it was what we are called to do!” said Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., National President and CEO of SCLC. “When we built this building in 2007, it was in part to center our headquarters on a historic street, in a historic city and near the birthplace of Dr. King. We wanted to make sure we were a beacon for justice and fairness.”

The marker dedication took place at the SCLC National Headquarters, 320 Auburn Avenue NE, Atlanta, Georgia. Speakers at the dedication included Cathelean Steele, Director of Special Programs of SCLC; Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Chairman of the Board of SCLC; Deva Hirsch, Executive Director, The Rich Foundation, Inc.; Autumn Smith, historian with Chasing History and SCLC; Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., National President and CEO of SCLC; and Elyse Butler, Marker Manager at the Georgia Historical Society.