Ready from Within—think about that title. It describes the core values of Septima Poinsette Clark. Nothing deterred her from her goal to educate fellow Black citizens and further their opportunity to vote. Her work and her name have been overlooked in the history of the modern civil rights movement.
By today’s standards she’d be considered name dropping to impress you with the people she knew, who supported and influenced her life. She quietly explains how she met Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrew Young, and Barbara Jordan, to name a few. In 1918, she joined the NAACP and quietly supported non-violent resistance for the rest of her life.
Her courage was tested as an early member of Highlander Center, a grassroots organization still active today. It led her to personally train hundreds of teachers for Citizenship Schools. “…Citizenship Schools made people aware of the political situation in their area.” Citizenship School teachers didn’t use textbooks. They directly instructed people to read election laws and to write their names in cursive writing.
This first-person account is written in the style of the oral history valued in the Black community. As if in a conversation, Clark speaks directly to the reader as she unfolds her life story. It’s a gentle explanation of her persistence to ensure her vocation. “I just thought that you couldn’t get people to register and vote until you teach them to read and write. That’s what I thought, and I was so right.”
Highly recommended, especially to readers interested in the history of the Civil Rights Movement, who will find a synopsis in this little book. The engaging and encouraging style will have the reader doing internet searches to learn more about the Highlander Center, Citizenship Schools, and more. This timely book is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Septima Poinsette Clark continues her vocation as she educates readers.