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Oral History Interview with Septima Poinsette Clark, July 30, 1976. Interview G-0017. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Septima Clark was hired by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to continue the voter registration and community education classes she had taught through the Highlander Folk School. She recalls some of the successes of her work with the SCLC, especially the passing of the Voting Rights Act. The challenges of the work included prejudice against the female leaders in the organization, violent reactions by local police and Ku Klux Klan, and occasional class prejudice amongst SCLC leaders. Clark notes how several leaders needed to learn techniques for serving poor rural people, and she often corrected their misunderstandings. She compares the leadership strategies of Andrew Young, Wyatt T. Walker, and Ralph Abernathy and explains why the organization flourished under the influence of certain civil rights workers like Young and Jesse Jackson.
  • Many southerners avoid the interracial Highlander Folk School
  • Highlander Folk School volunteers go to jail for voter registration campaigns
  • One example of the violent opposition to the SCLC
  • Highlander Folk School uses local election law and farming needs to teach basic skills to communities
  • Highlander Folk School workers receive protection from the federal attorney general and local police
  • Highlander Folk School weathers various internal disputes
  • Female leaders are sometimes challenged and ignored in the SCLC
  • Some SCLC leaders have limited success in community organizing, often due to class differences
  • Two different women in the SCLC
  • Dr. King’s personal commitment to nonviolence
  • Different leadership styles in the SCLC
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference
  • Trade-unions--Officials and employees--Southern States--Education
  • Highlander Folk School (Monteagle, Tenn.)
  • Women civil rights workers
  • African American civil rights workers--Georgia
  • Voter registration--Southern States
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.