After the March on Washington SCLC began planning for a large-scale, summer 1964 campaign by a nonviolent "freedom army" in Alabama around the right to vote. Led by Rev. James Bevel and Diane Nash Bevel, organizing began in Montgomery in the spring of 1964. This Handbook for Freedom Army Recruits was part of that effort. It reflects SCLC's understanding and practice of nonviolent direct action in the early part of 1964.
However, building the freedom army proved difficult, and the ferocious political battle in Congressto to enact the Civil Rights Act outlawing segregation consumed resources and attention. When mass arrests and KKK mob violence were used in St. Augustine FL against protesters opposing segregation, SCLC postponed the Alabama campaign and shifted its attention to the fight in Florida — both to support the local SCLC affiliate and pressure Congress to pass the bill. Then intense focus on Mississippi during Freedom Summer again delayed the Alabama effort. In somewhat different form, it eventually began on January 1st, 1965, in Selma rather than Montgomery.
Handbook for Freedom Army Recruits