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Septima Poinsette Clark and the Citizenship School Movement

Alicia Martinson


Septima Poinsette Clark (1898–1987)—known as the "mother of the movement"—was a Civil Rights activist and educator. Clark saw education as a tool for people to better their lives and literacy as a means to liberation. Clark, who began teaching in 1916, fought for Black teachers to be hired in the public schools and to receive equal pay. In 1956, Clark was fired for her affiliation with the NAACP and became the Director of Workshops at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee. Here she created the Citizenship Education Program, a popular education movement to teach literacy and political empowerment in the Black community and traveled the South organizing citizenship schools and training teachers. From 1957 to 1970, Clark developed almost 900 citizenship schools "in people's kitchens, in beauty parlors, under trees."

This CPH poster printed at the worker-owned and union-run Community Printers, Santa Cruz, CA.

This is #189 in the Celebrate People’s History Poster Series.

Alicia Martinson is a Brooklyn-based artist, teacher, and organizer of community public-art projects.