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Oral history interview with Septima Poinsette Clark, July 25, 1976

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Creator:Clark, Septima Poinsette, 1898-1987
Creator:Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd
Creator:Southern Oral History Program
Title:Oral history interview with Septima Poinsette Clark, July 25, 1976
Date:1976 July 25

Septima Clark was a teacher and citizen's education director for the Highlander Folk School and Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She also worked with the South Carolina Council on Human Relations, YWCA, and American Friends Service Committee. This interview covers her childhood in Charleston, South Carolina, and her family's efforts to survive poverty and racial prejudice. Her mother was a washerwoman reared in Haiti, and her father was a former slave on the Poinsette plantation. Her first job as a teacher on John's Island from 1916 to 1919 led to her early activism with the NAACP, her friendship with Judge and Mrs. Waring, and her work with the Charleston YWCA. She married Nerie David Clark as an act of rebellion against her parents, but she chose not to remarry after his early death. She attended college in Columbia, returned to Charleston in 1947, and lobbied for the first local credit union to serve black workers. After she lost her teaching position in 1956 due to her NAACP membership, she worked for the Highlander Folk School encouraging voter registration and education. The SCLC hired her to form education programs, but her plans for increasing community involvement, protecting the labor rights of black teachers, and educating black voters were often ignored because she was female. The interview ends with her thoughts on why she started receiving more recognition for her work in the mid-1970s.

Title from menu page (viewed on July 21, 2008).

Interview participants: Septima Poinsette Clark, interviewee; Jacquelyn Hall, interviewer.

This electronic edition is part of the UNC-CH digital library, Documenting the American South. It is a part of the collection Oral histories of the American South.

Text encoded by Mike Millner. Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers.

The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the aggregation and enhancement of partner metadata.

Types:Transcripts | Sound recordings | Oral histories | Sound | Text
Subjects:Clark, Septima Poinsette, 1898-1987 | South Carolina--Race relations | Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.) | Trade-unions--Officials and employees--Southern States--Education | Women civil rights workers | African American civil rights workers--Georgia | African American women civil rights workers | African American women educators | African Americans--Civil rights--Southern States | Civil rights movements--Southern States | Southern States--Race relations | Segregation--Southern States | African Americans--Suffrage--Southern States | Race relations in school management--South Carolina--Charleston | Southern Christian Leadership Conference | Charleston (S.C.)--Race relations | African Americans--South Carolina--Charleston--Social life and customs | Highlander Folk School (Monteagle, Tenn.) | United States, Tennessee, Marion County, Monteagle, 35.2400807, -85.8396979 | United States, Tennessee, Grundy County, 35.3883667, -85.7225824 | United States, Tennessee, Franklin County, 35.1549608, -86.0921752 | United States, Georgia, 32.165622, -82.900075 | United States, South Carolina, Charleston County, Charleston, 32.7765656, -79.9309216
Collection:Oral histories of the American South (Georgia selections)
Institution:Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Contributors:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library
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Forms part of Oral histories of the American South collection.

Persistent Link to Item:http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/G-0016/menu.html