Abernathy, Ralph David (ăbˈərnăthˌē) [key], 1926–90, American civil-rights leader, b. Linden, Ala. A Baptist minister, he helped Martin Luther King, Jr., organize the Montgomery bus boycott (1955). He was treasurer, vice president, and, after King's assassination (1968), president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). An advocate of nonviolence as a means to social change, he led the Poor People's Campaign on Washington, D.C., after King's death. He resigned from the SCLC in 1977.
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