In 1959, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Many persons and organizations are struggling for their survival in the struggle for human decency and total freedom. The hope of the future rests upon … women of integrity, honesty and courage like Septima P. Clark.”
A new digital history exhibit maps the life and work of Clark, an American educator, civil rights activist and community organizer. The interactive, peer-reviewed website, created by NC State history professor Kat Charron in coordination with the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative, explores Clark’s hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, from her perspective and through her experiences. Through extensive research, a virtual tour and oral histories, it tells the story of both Clark and the city, itself, using her individual activist life to open up a broader portrait of black women’s activism in Charleston and the Low Country.
“Highlighting this history not only reveals the significance of the black freedom struggle in Charleston, it also challenges ongoing race, class and gender divisions throughout the city’s public history landscape,” Charron said of the project.
Clark, who died in 1987 at age 89, is perhaps best known for helping create Citizenship Schools that offered literacy skills to thousands of African Americans in South Carolina and other parts of the South. She’s also remembered as a mentor to young girls, a political activist and a bridge between various organizations in her community.
For more information, visit the exhibit, “Remembering Individuals, Remembering Communities: Septima P. Clark and Public History in Charleston.”