Title: Oral History Interview with Septima Poinsette Clark, July 25, 1976. Interview G-0016.
Interviewer: Hall, Jacquelyn
Interviewee: Clark, Septima Poinsette
Subjects: South Carolina--Race relations Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (U.S.) Trade-unions--Officials and employees--Southern States--Education Highlander Folk School (Monteagle, Tenn.) Women civil rights workers African American civil rights workers--Georgia
Abstract: 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.