Lecture: Freedom’s Teacher, the Life of Septima Clark

Freedom's Teacher: the Life of Septima ClarkOut of the archives and into public discourse… For her biography of Civil Rights activist Septima Poinsette Clark, Katherine Mellen Charron drew significantly on the archival holdings of the Avery Research Center.  Please join us on Thursday, February 17 as Charron, assistant professor of history at North Carolina State University, lectures on Freedom’s Teacher: the Life of Septima Clark.

Charron’s work traces Clark’s life from her earliest years as a student, teacher, and community member in rural and urban South Carolina to her increasing radicalization as an activist following World War II, highlighting how Clark brought her life’s work to bear on the Civil Rights Movement.  Charron’s engaging portrait demonstrates Clark’s crucial role — and the role of many black women teachers — in making education a cornerstone of the twentieth-century freedom struggle.

Drawing on autobiographies and memoirs by fellow black educators, state educational records, papers from civil rights organizations, and oral histories, Charron argues that the schoolhouse served as an important institutional base for the movement.  Clark’s program also fostered participation from grassroots southern black women, affording them the opportunity to link their personal concerns to their political involvement on the community’s behalf.  Using Clark’s life as a lens, Charron sheds valuable new light on southern black women’s activism in national, state, and judicial politics, from the Progressive Era to the civil rights movement and beyond.

Freedom’s Teacher: The Life of Septima Clark has been awarded the 2010 Julia Cherry Spruill Prize for best monograph on Southern women’s history, from the Southern Association of Women Historians.

Freedom’s Teacher, the Life of Septima Clark
Katherine Mellon Charron
Avery Research Center – McKinley Washington Auditorium
Thursday, February 17, 2011
6pm to 8pm

The Avery Research Center holds the Septima P. Clark Papers, which are accessible to the public during normal Reading Room hours.

Special thanks to CLAW’s Lisa Randle for the lecture announcement.

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