What were the two main civil right groups working in Selma and who were the leaders?

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mdelmuro | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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In Selma, there were two groups competing for influence:

  1. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC - pronounced "snick") - John Lewis (who is currently a U.S. congressman) was the leader of this group.  
  2. Southern Christian Leadership Committee (SCLC) - Led by Martin Luther King, Jr.

SNCC was the first group in Selma. They became well-known because they organized Freedom Summer in which whites and blacks traveled to the South in an effort to get African Americans registered to vote. SNCC did much of the initial work in Selma, but the suffered at the hands of the hard-edged sheriff and lack of progress in voter registration.

This lack of progress resulted in an invitation to the SCLC. With the SCLC came prominence in the form of Martin Luther King, Jr., who in 1963 became the face of the Civil Rights Movement. 

So although King pulled out from the initial march in Selma, when the SCLC and Lewis and SNCC marched, cameras from all over the country were present. They televised images of absolute brutality galvanized many parts of the nation to cry out against the conditions in which blacks were forced to live in the South.

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