Septima Poinsette Clark was a civil rights activist and educator responsible for the development of Citizenship Schools.
But Clark’s career was only just beginning. A few years before being fired, she had discovered a Tennessee school that featured integrated workshops on citizenship and civil rights. She began to teach literacy there, educating black students about citizenship laws and civil rights.
This commitment to educating her fellow black citizens came with a price: The state of Tennessee revoked the school’s charter, forcibly closed down its buildings and arrested teachers on bogus charges. Clark was accused of illegal alcohol possession and arrested, though the charges were later dropped. When she was released from jail, Clark was invited to continue her work in Georgia by none other than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The “Citizenship School” model she started became a juggernaut. It helped fill educational gaps left by segregated school systems that made black students the last priority.
The classes Clark established schooled thousands of students in basic literacy and civil rights, producing savvy new voters and changing the course of the Civil Rights movement. Among her mentees was Rosa Parks, who openly admired her patience and courage.
Read more about Septime Poinsette Clark on TIME, BlackPast.org, in Amanda Shrader Jordan’s Faith in Action: The first Citizenship School on Johns Island, South Carolina. or Wikipedia.