MAY 3, 1898
Septima Poinsette Clark, whom Martin Luther King Jr. called “the mother of the movement,” was born in Charleston, South Carolina.
As an educator, she studied summers with W.E.B. Du Bois at Atlanta University and later worked with Thurgood Marshall on successful litigation that equalized salaries for Black and white teachers.
In 1956, after the South Carolina Legislature passed a law that banned state employees from belonging to the NAACP, the school board fired Clark, who lost all her pension, despite 40 years of work. She began conducting workshops at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee and helped establish “Citizenship Schools,” which spread through the Deep South.
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter awarded her a Living Legacy Award, and three years later, South Carolina honored her with its highest civilian honor. She died in 1987 on the same Johns Island where she originally taught.