Black Women You Should Know: Septima Poinsette Clark

by kathleenljackson

Septima Poinsette Clark (May 3, 1898–December 15, 1987) was an American educator and civil rights activist. Clark developed the literacy and citizenship workshops that played an important role in the drive for voting rights and civil rights for African Americans in the American Civil Rights Movement.”  She became known as the “Queen mother” or “Grandmother of the American Civil Rights Movement” in the United States.

She was active with the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, serving as Highlander’s director of workshops, recruiting teachers and students. One of the participants in her workshops was Rosa Parks. A few months after participating in the workshops Parks helped to start the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Clark is most famous for establishing “Citizenship Schools” teaching reading to adults throughout the Deep South. While the project served to increase literacy, it also served as a means to empower Black communities. (Source: Wikipedia)

Septima Clark

I have great belief in the fact that whenever there is chaos, it creates wonderful thinking. I consider chaos a gift.

– Septima Clark


septima clark


I never felt that getting angry would do you any good other than hurt your own digestion, keep you from eating, which I liked to do.

– Septima Clark



Listen: Interview with Septima Poinsette Clark, July 25, 1976.
Southern Oral History Program Collection.

Read: Septima Poinsette Clark Scrapbook, 1919-1983.