Work with the SCLC

In 1957, Septima Clark joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), working under Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Clark considered the SCLC a parallel organization to Highlander, because it promoted the Civil Rights agenda by inspiring community leaders. She began work in Atlanta and traveled to communities across the South, recruiting people to attend citizenship schools to remedy their local community problems.  Her work inspired individuals to build their own citizenship schools, and Clark personally supported this expansion by recruiting teachers for the new schools. In 1962, Septima formed the Voter Education Project, which prepared 10,000 teachers for citizenship schools and registered 700,000 southern African Americans to vote.1

sclcSCLC Freedom NOW!

In addition, Clark helped with marches and protests for Civil Rights and supported college sit-ins. She identified herself as a radical, claiming that it was sometimes necessary to break unjust laws to fight for social justice. Clark’s work in education and activism during her time at the SCLC made her a target for opposition. Members of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens’ Council often came to SCLC meetings to intimidate leadership, and many people lost their jobs because of SCLC affiliations. Fortunately, Clark avoided extreme violence from her opponents.2

Sources for this page:

1. Sears Botsch, Carol. “Septima Poinsette Clark.” University of South Carolina – Aiken. 03 August 2000.
2. McFadden, Grace. “Septima P. Clark and the Struggle for Human Rights.” in Women in the Civil Rights Movement, Trailblazers and Torchbearers. Brooklyn, NY: Carlson Publishing, 1990.