The coalition is multiracial and multi-issue, crucial for any movement that wants to have broad appeal. It has the support of about 150 groups, including clergy, white college students and women's groups. Barber says he has received calls from people around the country who want to replicate Moral Mondays in other states.
He says the years of planning paid off when the Republican-led assembly provided the spark that helped Moral Mondays launch the "spontaneous" protests.
Barber's advice for movement builders: Don't wait for the right spark to organize. Do it now.
"No matter where you are now, now is the time to build coalitions," Barber says. "You do it now because when the moment comes, the only thing that will be able to save you is to be together."
2. Make policy, not noise
They gave the nation a nifty slogan: "We are the 99%.'' But they haven't been heard from much since. Remember Occupy Wall Street? In 2011, a group of protesters occupied a park in New York City's financial district to protest income inequality and the growing power of financial institutions.
Occupy Wall Street generated plenty of media coverage, but its largely faded from public attention. Yet the tea party, a conservative movement that arose in 2009 to protest government spending and debt, is still wielding influence in American public life.
Why does the tea party have more influence than Occupy Wall Street?
The tea party didn't just make noise; it put people in office, several political scientists and historians note.
"The tea party from the outset focused on winning elections and setting up a structure that could affect the political process," says Larry Schweikart, co-author of "A Patriot's History of the United States."
"The Occupy Wall Street group only wanted to raise hell."
Successful movements just don't take it to the streets. They elect candidates, pass laws, set up institutions to raise money, train people and produce leaders, observers say.
The March on Washington, for example, had the charisma of King. But it also had the organizational genius of Bayard Rustin, a man whose attention to detail was so keen that people wryly noted he knew precisely how many portable toilets 250,000 marchers needed.
"Occupy used a very smart tactic -- sit in parks where people could join the protests," says Michael Kazin, a history professor at Georgetown University in Washington and an expert on social movements.
"At the same time, it was just a tactic," says Kazin, author of "American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation."
"A tactic is not a movement. A lot of people got excited by the tactics, but they didn't have a second act."
People remember the March on Washington because it did have a second act. Civil rights leaders used the political pressure generated by the march and the subsequent assassination of President John F. Kennedy to pressure Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, historians say.
Still, they were also willing to compromise. And compromise is not glamorous. Failed movements are filled with stories of idealistic people who didn't make compromises. A successful movement, though, is filled with people who know that it is wise at times to compromise.
A compromise is what helped the March on Washington take flight, some historians say.
The original March on Washington wasn't supposed to be just about race but about economic issues as well. Organizers originally billed it as a march for "jobs and freedom."
Yet King and others de-emphasized the jobs' focus of the march because they thought it would jeopardize the passage of the pending civil rights bill, says Podair, the Lawrence University professor.
Talking about poverty and inequality at the 1963 march would have alienated potential Northern white supporters who would have seen such rhetoric as a ploy to redistribute money from the white middle class to blacks, Podair says.
Instead, organizers reassured them by focusing on King's dream of racial equality, he says.
"The reason they can get Northern whites to support the march is to say we're not going to touch your wallets," Podair says. "What we're going to do is ask the South to give African-Americans their political rights, something they should have done 100 years ago. But we're not going to redistribute income."
Those commemorating the 50th anniversary of King's speech during various events in Washington this month can learn from the leaders of the 1963 march, Podair says.