Ready from Within: A First Person Narrative / Edition 1

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Septima Clarke played one of the most essential, but little-recognized roles in the Civil Rights Movement. Born in 1898 in Charleston, South Carolina, she was a public school teacher until 1956, when she was dismissed for refusing to disavow her membership in the National Association for the advancement of Colored People. Subsequently, she worked for the Highlander Folk School, helping to set up Citizenship Schools throughout the South where Black adults could learn to read and prepare to vote. During the 1960s she worked with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and was a close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. From 1978 to 1983 she served as the first Black woman on the Charleston School Board. This is a first-person narrative of her life in the context of the Civil Rights Movement. Her story constitutes a major thread in the tapestry of that movement.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865431744
  • Publisher: Africa World Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1990
  • Edition description: AWP ED.
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 145
  • Sales rank: 330,751
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.46 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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PART II: THE BEGINNING AND THE END Editor's note: Septima Clark was born in 1898, thirty-five years after slavery was abolished in the southern states. For the first twelve years after the Civil War ended, federal troops occupied the South to try to guarantee the freed slaves their civil and political equality. But in 1873 a depression began that within four years became the most severe yet experienced in the United States. Farmers and workers were beginning to rebel; the northern and southern elites re-approached each other in order to protect themselves. This reconciliation between northern and southern elites became clear in the Compromise of 1877, when the Republican party made concessions to the Democratic party in order to win the disputed presidential race between Rutherford Hayes and Samuel Tilden. As part of these concessions, the Republicans agreed to remove from the South the Union troops, who were one obstacle to the re-establishment of white supremacy.

For twenty years after 1877 a fluid situation existed in the South, during which different philosophies of race relations competed for acceptance. Segregation, or the policy of setting black people apart, had been used in the North prior to the Civil War, but it was not introduced full-scale in the South until the end of the nineteenth century.

During the 1880s the whole country suffered another severe economic depression during which many people suffered dreadfully from poverty, hunger, and insecurity. The U.S. government began to fight colonial and racist wars to control the raw materials of the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. The Supreme Court held, in a series of decisions, that segregation was compatible with the U.S. Constitution, although earlier the Court ruled segregation unconstitutional. The message went out that colored and black people were to be considered inferior. There had to be a scapegoat for the cruel disappointment of hopes suffered during the depression.

Between 1900 and 1920, the years of Septima Clark's coming of age, the South affirmed racism, and state after state enacted laws that legalized a full-scale system of segregation. These laws, which required blacks and whites to avoid contact as much as humanly possible, applied to all forms of public transportation, to sports and recreations, to employment, prisons, hospitals, schools and ultimately to funeral homes, morgues and cemeteries.

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Table of Contents

Searching 3
Finding Septima Clark 6
Finding Rosa Parks 13
Septima's Story
Part I The Movement
Judge Waring 23
The Turning Point 30
Dismissal 35
Highlander and the First Citizenship School 41
Raid on Highlander 55
All Over the Deep South 60
Non-Violent Resistance 71
The Role of Women 77
Part II The Beginning and the End
Septima's Childhood 87
Teaching, Marriage, and Children 103
Retirement and Contentment 119
Chronology 128
Note on Sources 131
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