10 Non Profits that Helped Shape Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee.  Though vilified by many while alive, today he is a revered Civil Rights Movement icon who has been an example of peaceful resistance and helped to propel the plight of African American people in the United States to a world stage.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the non profit organizations that helped shape him into the person whose words and steps have impacted and influenced generations.

  1. Which national nonprofit did Martin Luther King Jr. join as an undergraduate student? 

    Alpha Phi Alpha

    Martin Luther King Jr. (Bottom Right) pledging Alpha Phi Alpha, circa 1952

    Today, Alpha Phi Alpha, the oldest of the African American college fraternities, counts among its members elected officials, elite athletes, community activists and scholars, many of whom have gone on to lead other nonprofit organizations. The “Alphas” are helping to lead a campaign for a Martin Luther King memorial in Washington, DC.

  2. Which nonprofit was one of Dr. King’s earliest partners in the quest for civil rights? 

    National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
    The 1700 chapters of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, now known simply as NAACP, will celebrate the organization’s 100th birthday next month (see poster above).

  3. Which nonprofit was the first to launch the Montgomery bus boycott that ultimately brought Dr. King to prominence?Women’s Political CouncilAfrican American women in Montgomery, Alabama, formed the Women’s Political Council in the mid-1940s. They tried to end bus segregation through advocacy with the local mayor. When that didn’t work, they laid plans for a bus boycott. After Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat, it was the council that sent out the call for action. Later, much of the boycott organizing was taken over by the Montgomery Improvement Association.
  4. Which nonprofit did Dr. King became president of in 1957? 
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stands outside the Southern Christian Leadership Conference offices in Atlanta, GA, in November 1967. The photograph was taken by renowned Leica Camera photographer, Benedict J. Fernandez. Leica Camera, Inc., is currently supporting Countdown To Eternity, a national photo exhibition providing an inspirational view of the famed civil rights leader through the photographs of Fernandez. (PRNewsFoto)

    Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
    SCLC President Emeritus Reverend Joseph Lowery, 87, will deliver the benediction at the January 20 presidential inaugural. Today SCLC continues to maintain nearly 60 chapters.

  5. Which nonprofit provided a site for training and meetings for Dr. King and his colleagues in South Carolina?The Penn Community Services Center
    The Penn Center, on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, once a school for freed slaves, still welcomes nonprofits who use its facilities for retreats and training sessions. The center educates the public about the vibrant heritage of the South Carolina sea islands and the islands’ Gullah people.
  6. Which nonprofit spearheaded a protest of more than 125,000 people featuring Dr. King BEFORE the famous March on Washington? 

    Detroit Council for Human Rights
    Prominent clergymen, elected officials and trade unionists organized the 1963 Great March to Freedom under the auspices of the council to commemorate the 1943 Detroit race riots and the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The seeds of Dr. King’s most famous speech were uttered at the Detroit event, where he told participants “I have a dream.”

  7. Which nonprofit played a key role in encouraging Dr. King to speak out on international concerns?American Committee on Africa (ACOA)Dr. King first worked with ACOA to speak out in support of Algerian independence from France in 1959. Over the years, he collaborated frequently with this New York-based group to call for international human rights. ACOA’s work continues through the group Africa Action, formed in 2001 from a merger of ACOA and two other groups.
  8. Which nonprofit helped lift the spirits of Dr. King and his followers? 

    SNCC Freedom Singers
    Dr. King emphasized the importance of song in the southern freedom movement. This a capella singing group raised funds and inspired civil rights activists at meetings and protests. Today, the SNCC Freedom Singers live on, especially through the music of the group Sweet Honey in the Rock, founded by freedom singer Bernice Johnson Reagon.

  9. Through membership in which nonprofit did Dr. King express his views on war? 

    The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR)
    The pacifist nonprofit FOR is nearly 100 years old. Its research on violence in Latin America was the subject of a front-page New York Times article last fall.

  10. Which nonprofit is devoted to sharing Dr. King’s legacy with ordinary people?
    King Center

    The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change

    The King Center, spearheaded by Mrs. Coretta Scott King until her death in 2006, survives but has been roiled by financial and leadership challenges over the years. The center, Dr. King’s birth home and other buildings are part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Site, maintained by the National Park Service.


* List originally published on BlueAvocado.com

Latoya Henry is the publisher and founder of Haute Giving: The Sexy Side of Philanthropy.
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