The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a key force in the Civil Rights Movement, was launched on this date in 1957, the brainchild of Martin Luther King, Jr., who became the SCLC’s president, Ella Baker, who was the organization’s sole staffer for several years, Bayard Rustin, and Stanley Levison, a Communist attorney and businessman. The organization was formed by some sixty black ministers and leaders as a follow-up to the hard-fought victory of the Montgomery Bus Boycott victory. Levison had been treasurer of the Manhattan branch of the American Jewish Congress and a champion of left-wing causes, including the defense of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and the campaign against the McCarran Internal Security Act. He played a significant fundraising and strategic advisory role on behalf of the SCLC.
“American Jews played a significant role in the founding and funding of some of the most important civil rights organizations . . . In 1909, Henry Moscowitz joined W.E.B. DuBois and other civil rights leaders to found the NAACP. Kivie Kaplan, a vice-chairman of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations . . . served as the national president of the NAACP from 1966 to 1975. Arnie Aronson worked with A. Philip Randolph and Roy Wilkins to found the Leadership Conference. . . . From 1910 to 1940, more than 2,000 primary and secondary schools and twenty black colleges . . . were established in whole or in part by contributions from Jewish philanthropist Julius Rosenwald. . . . Jews made up half of the young people who participated in the Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964.” —Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
JEWDAYO ROCKS! Donald Fagen, co-founder, vocalist, keyboardist, songwriter and main man of Steely Dan, born on this in 1948.