Septima Poinsette Clark was an educator and activist. She worked for equal access to education and civil rights for people of colour and racial equality several decades before the rise of national awareness of racial inequality. This led her to be known as the ‘Queen mother’ or ‘Grandmother of the American Civil Rights Movement’.
I wasn't afraid of anyone, and so when I had to face the Klan, I never felt afraid . he refused to condemn the whites who mistreated him.
My participation in this fight…was what might be described by some …as my first ‘radical’ job. I would call it my first effort in a social action, challenging the status quo…I felt that in reality I was working for the accomplishment of something that ultimately would be good for everyone…
… hating people, bearing hate in your heart, even though you may feel that you have been ill-treated, never accomplishes anything good…Hate is only a canker that destroys .
… one of the failures of my life, because I tried to push them into something they weren't ready for.... That taught me a good lesson.
I found out ... the low income whites were considered dirt under the feet of the wealthy whites, just as the blacks were.
… Highlander has trained leaders who in turn go into their home communities and train their people…
...anyone who was against segregation was considered a Communist...White southerners couldn't believe that a southerner could have the idea of racial equality; they thought it had to come from somewhere else.
… he would say, 'Anything I can't answer, ask Mrs. Clark.' But he didn't mean it, because I never did get the chance to speak.
...would usually kneel down and pray in front of the guns, and Thompson's tank didn't get to kill any of us It just goes to show that we can get something done nonviolently.
… a leading civil rights activist…a legendary educator, and humanitarian…we have lost a part of our collective conscience which calls out against inequality and injustice…
I have a great belief in the fact that whenever there is chaos, it creates wonderful thinking. I consider chaos a gift.
There is nothing worse than having to teach a black child that none of the pleasant things in life are for him ... explaining why the native soil is such a hard place for the native to grow in. I don't ever expect to see a utopia.... I think there will always be something that you're going to have to work on, always.
In teaching [the poor and underprivileged] and thereby helping them raise themselves to a better status in life, I felt then that I would [also] be serving my state and nation, too, all of the people, affluent and poor, white and black. For in my later years I am more convinced than ever that in lifting the lowly we lift likewise the entire citizenship … more subtle things… remained. What about your legislature? What about your city council? I'm the only black on the school board, and when I get off ... I wonder if there will be another one.
Education: Studied under W. E. B. Du Bois at Atlanta University, 1937 Benedict College, B.A., 1942 Hampton Institute, M.A., 1946. Memberships: NAACP, SCLC.1929-47, and Charleston Public School System, 1947-56. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), membership chair in Charleston office, 1947-56 Fired by Charleston School Board for NAACP membership, 1956. Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), member of committee on race relations and first black member of central board, 1948. Began conducting workshops at Tennessee's Highlander Folk School, 1955 Director of workshops at Highlander, 1956-61, and head of citizenship schools, beginning 1957 Arrested in raid on Highlander, 1959 Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), director of education, 1961-70. Charleston School Board, first black female member, 1974-82. Awards Martin Luther King, Jr., Award from SCLC, 1970 National Education Association's Race Relations Award, 1976 Honorary doctorate, College of Charleston, 1978 Living Legacy Award from President Jimmy Carter, 1979 Order of the Palmetto, 1982 American Book Award, 1987, for Ready from Within .