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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Septima Poinsette Clark, July 30, 1976. Interview G-0017. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Highlander Folk School weathers various internal disputes

Controversy within the Highlander Folk School sometimes arose from disagreements over the teachers' beliefs and from infiltration by federal law enforcement. The F.B.I. searched for signs of interracial romance within the organization as a means of bringing charges, but they could not keep the school from operating.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Septima Poinsette Clark, July 30, 1976. Interview G-0017. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

EUGENE WALKER:
Did you ever have an experience whereby somebody was planted in the school to disrupt your process of trying to teach?
SEPTIMA POINSETTE CLARK:
Some of those same young college students at Highlander when we had our first college workshop. Long-and I'm trying to think of his first name-came from. . . . He's now President at Talladega. But anyway, he came from Fisk University to talk to the students, and they were afraid that he was going to be what they call "Uncle Tom-ish," and they walked out and slammed the door. But later on they came back in, and at the close of that workshop they decided that they were going to do many things back in their communities.
EUGENE WALKER:
So you didn't have any either real or imagined fears that somebody was trying to disrupt this endeavor, like the FBI or the CIA or anything of that sort.
SEPTIMA POINSETTE CLARK:
I really didn't have that feeling, but I learned after that that there were people sent in to spy on us. And in 1969 [1959?] they came, and I found out that the FBI had sent in people. They were peeping all around to see if black girls and white boys, and white girls and black boys were together. And when we had the trial after they raided and arrested us, we found out that they had been there. And they were, well, really disrupting the program at that time, but not for long because we went right back with our work.