9 Facts You Should Know about Local Hero, Septima P. Clark

“I believe unconditionally in the ability of people to respond when they are told the truth. We need to be taught to study rather than to believe, to inquire rather than to affirm.”- Septima P. Clark
  1. She is a Charleston native

Septima P. Clark was born May 3, 1898 on Wentworth St. in the historic Downtown Charleston district. Born to a former slave and Haitian laundress, her parents strived to provide a strong foundation of learning for young Septima.

  1. Septima was a devoted educator

Clark earned her teaching license at the age of 18 instructing black children in John’s Island and downtown at the Avery Normal Institute (now the College of Charleston Avery Research Center). Additionally, she taught black Charleston locals how to read and write in order for them to vote by using Sears catalogs and household items to instruct her students. Septima continued her education and earned her bachelor’s degree from Benedict College (1942) and her master’s from Hampton Institute (1946).

  1. She was an activist for black teacher pay and teacher desegregation in Charleston schools

In 1956, Clark worked closely with the Charleston Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to fight for black teachers rights to equal pay and be allowed to work in South Carolina public schools. Although her efforts were successful that year, her teaching license was revoked due to her affiliation with the NAACP. Since she could no longer teach in SC, Clark moved to Tennessee and worked for the Highlander Folk School. She helped improve students’ literacy skills and led workshops in social justice/political engagement – Rosa Parks attended one of these sessions before being at the forefront of the Montgomery bus boycott.

  1. Clark was a key figure of the Civil Rights Movement

In 1961, Clark went on to work for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Atlanta, Ga. She was appointed as the director of teaching and education over its Citizen Education Program. Septima hosted workshops to prepare black Americans for protests and the polls. She believed that education was important for African Americans to progress forward in society. In this position, she played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement and was coined the “Mother of The Movement” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  1. She holds many accolades and awards

Clark moved back to Charleston and was elected to the Charleston School Board in 1975 and had her teacher’s pension reinstated after her wrongful termination decades earlier. The College of Charleston awarded Septima Clark with an honorary degree and received the Living Legacy Award under President Carter the following year for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. In 1982, she earned the highest SC civilian award, Order of the Palmetto.

  1. Septima Clark is a published author

Septima Clark wrote two memoirs, Echo in My Soul (1962) and Ready from Within (1986) to highlight her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and her platform of literacy, education, and political participation among African Americans. In 1987, her second book received the American Book Award.

  1. She has a school dedicated to her educational mission in Charleston

Clark’s legacy continues through the installment of Septima P. Clark Corporate Academy in 1990 which is an educational program that assists at-risk high school students in receiving their high school diploma.

  1. Clark’s life will soon appear on stage

Check out the upcoming play, SEPTIMA, commissioned by PURE Theatre and the League of Women Voters of the Charleston Area to learn more about Septima Clark’s contribution to the Civil Rights Movement. The play will run from March 9th to April 1st at the PURE Theatre in Downtown Charleston.

  1. The College will be celebrating the work of Septima Clark in new exhibition

The newly installed Septima P. Clark Memorial Auditorium will be hosting an exhibition in Clark’s honor Thursday, February 23, 2023 at 5:00pm. It will be held in the Thaddeus Street Jr. Education Center at the College of Charleston. To learn more about local hero Sepitma Clark and her impact in the Charleston community, check out The College’s exhibition website. https://ldhi.library.cofc.edu/exhibits/show/septima_clark

CHS ASALH Black History Month Program on Feb. 11, 2023 at 1pm EST


Branch Meeting and Black History Month Forum

Date and Time

February 11, 2023, 1-3 pm


Charleston Area Branch ASALH


Riley Center for Livable Communities: 176 Lockwood Drive, Charleston 29403. (virtual link TBD)


The program addresses the Black History Month theme “Black Resistance”

Efforts to repress the teaching of Black history in the United States have a long history. Ironically as we celebrate Black History Month we find ourselves engaged in a highly charged public debate around this very issue. We invite you to join us and a panel of scholars, teachers, parents and activist to engage in a conversation on the issues, proposals, opportunities and strategies that are part of today’s struggle on the national, state and local levels.



  • Welcome
  • Lift Every Voice and Sing
  • Officers’ Comments
  • Black Resistance – The Fight Over Black History Forum
  • Announcements
  • Affirmations

Zoom Participation Details

Register in advance for to participate in the zoom:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

RSVP for In-Person Participation

Anson Street African Burial Ground Project Reanimation on Feb 26, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM EST

Join our community-advised conversation so that we can continue to serve you through our research and interpretation initiatives!

Time & Location

Feb 26, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Cannon Street Arts Center, 134 Cannon St, Charleston, SC 29403, USA

About the Event

As we continue the work we began with the Gullah society, we want to sit with community members who have consistently supported us and entrusted us with sharing the lives of the Anson Street Ancestors to ask you to direct our work. At this event, La’Sheia Oubré and Joanna Gilmore host the Community Conversation in person at Cannon Street, while Dr. Raquel Fleskes and Dr. Theodore Schurr will join via Zoom.  Raquel and Theodore will be providing an update about the full genomic DNA research and the dental calculus research, which will help us to learn more about the Ancestors’ diet and health.  We will also discuss plans for a permanent memorial for the Ancestors.  Artwork inspired by the Ancestors and created by children and community members will also be on display.


Black History Month: Resisting Slavery – Special Screening and Q&A With Smithsonian Curators

Over the past year, Smithsonian readers like you have joined us for virtual live events. Together, we have explored the nation’s history, its triumphs as well as its failings. In our next event, we are turning our attention to powerful stories of resistance—moments when enslaved people acted in defiance—that represent an essential chapter in American history.

Join us for a unique online event featuring a discussion with Smithsonian scholars as well as segments of the just-released Smithsonian Channel documentary series, “One Thousand Years of Slavery.” You’ll gain historical insights from Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture curators Mary Elliott and Paul Gardullo. You’ll also view clips from the television series, which was executive produced by Courtney B. Vance and Angela Bassett, and field producer Najma Nuriddin will share behind-the-scenes perspective on how the documentary came together.

You’ll also have a chance to ask your own questions about these vitally important parts of the history of slavery in a Q&A; CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett will moderate the conversation and pose your queries to our panel of experts.

For Black History Month, join us online on Monday, February 28, at 7 p.m. EST for an evening filled with learning and history.

Register/Buy Tickets

A recording of this presentation will be available to ticketholders via email after the event and will be accessible for on-demand viewing for one week.

CHS Area Branch of ASALH Does Black History Month-February 2022

Calendar of Events

Feburary 1-28 ASALH 2022 Black History Month Virtual Festival  (register at www.asalh.org)

February 1- Charleston County Council Resolution Recognizing 2022 Black History Month

February 7- “Black History Talks” Radio Program Hosted by Dr. Bernard Powers on WOHM 96.3 FM at 12 noon

February 9- Charleston City Council Meeting- Third and Final Reading on the Ordinance to Establish a Standing Committee on Human Affairs and Racial Conciliation)

Feb 12 – “Black People Do Therapy”

Feb13- Avery Love Basketball Game College of Charleston

Feb 20-Miseducation of the Negro Book Study Part I – with College of Charleston 1967 Scholars

February 24- Charleston County School Board Black Educators Affinity Group Workshop


ASALH 2022 Black History Month Theme Books, Websites and other Historical Materials and Guides

TV and Movie Schedule for Networks and Streamers

SC Department of Education Black History Month Calendar

Celebrate Black History Month with the Charleston County Library

2022 Black History Month at MUSC

Feb. 9, 12:00 p.m. – “Before Tuskegee: Human Experiments Under Slavery and Segregation in the United States” ft. Stephen Kenny, Ph.D. This is a virtual event, open to the public and registration is required. It is presented by the Student History Club. Learn more and register.

Feb. 9, 12:00 p.m. – “Black History Month: Hidden in plain sight” ft. Michael Allen. This is a virtual event, open to MUSC employees and staff only. This event will take place on Microsoft Teams. It is presented by the MUSC College of Nursing.

Feb. 11, 5:00 p.m. – 8th annual Black History Awards Program, “Extending the Dream” ft. B. DaNine Fleming, Ed.D. This is a virtual event, open to the public. This event will take place on Zoom. Meeting ID: 860 5350 4111 Passcode: 164860.

Feb. 16, 12:00 p.m. – “My feets is tired, but my soul is rested: The promises and limitations of African American resilience and restorative practice,” ft. Tonya M. Matthews, Ph.D. This is a virtual event, open to MUSC employees and students only. It is presented by the MUSC College of Dental Medicine and the MUSC Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Registration is required.

Feb. 16, 6:00 p.m. – “For the Future of Our Race: African Americans and Healthcare in 20th Century South Carolina” ft. Cherisse Jones-Branch, Ph.D. This is a virtual event, open to the public and registration is required. It is presented by the Waring Library and the MUSC Office of Humanities. Learn more and register.

Black History Month: “For the Future of Our Race: African Americans and Healthcare in 20th Century South Carolina” at Waring Historical Library and the MUSC Office of Humanities on Feb 16, 2022

What: 2022 Black History Month Lecture

Date: February 16, 2022

Time: 6 PM

Location: Virtual via Zoom

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required. More info & registration here.


The Black History Month Lecture, co-sponsored by the Waring Historical Library and the MUSC Office of Humanities, will be held Wednesday, February 16, 2022, at 6 PM virtually on Zoom. This year’s speaker will be Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch, from the Arkansas State University-Jonesboro. Dr. Jones-Branch will present on the topic, “For the Future of Our Race: African Americans and Healthcare in 20th Century South Carolina.”

This event will count as 1 DEI Hour Credit.

Cherisse Jones-Branch is the James and Wanda Lee Vaughn Professor of History, Dean of the Graduate School at Arkansas State University-Jonesboro, and a 2021-2022 American Council on Education Fellow. A native of Charleston, she received her B.A. and M.A. from the College of Charleston, and a doctorate in History from The Ohio State University. Dr. Jones-Branch is the author of Crossing the Line: Women and Interracial Activism in South Carolina during and after World War II and the co-editor of Arkansas Women: Their Lives and Times. A second manuscript, Better Living By Their Own Bootstraps: Black Women’s Activism in Rural Arkansas, 1913-1965, is now available from the University of Arkansas Press. Jones-Branch is currently working on a third book project titled “. . . To Make the Farm Bureau Stronger and Better for All the People:” African Americans and the American Farm Bureau Federation: 1920-1966.

The event is free and open to the public. Seating for this virtual event is limited and registration is required. Register by Tuesday, February 15, 2022, at 5 PM to reserve your seat and receive log in information.

This lecture is the third of four annual lectures which comprise the Waring Society Lecture Series. The Waring Society Lecture Series provides a look at new, fresh, and innovative research and publications on the history of the health sciences. Each lecture will be presented in a hybrid format, part formal recorded presentation and part live discussion online with the author-historian. Those who wish to attend will need to register so that you can receive the necessary link to join the presentation.

CHS Area Branch of ASALH Black History Month Program: Black People Do Therapy on Saturday, February 12th at 3pm EST

Date: Saturday, February 12, 2022

Time: 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM EST

Location: Virtual (Zoom)

Event Registration


The session will include a discussion on why therapy is important, with a focus on Black people, what to expect when attending a visit, why mental health matters, self-care in times of COVID-19, how to engage young people in the mental health conversation, and the impact of social justice issues has on ones’ mental health. The discussion will be held with mental health professionals Dr. Jerez Mitchell and Tita Johnson, LPC.

Presenter Bios

Dr. Jerez Mitchell

Dr. Jerez Mitchell is a mental health consultant and provides psychoeducational programming and advocacy for children and adults. She currently works at the Charleston Area Urban League as a Program Coordinator and Community Organizer. She is an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California and the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.

Dr. Mitchell obtained her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Spelman College and her Master’s and PhD degree in Counseling Psychology from Howard University. She completed two Post-Doctoral specializations: First in Couples and Family Therapy at the Ralph H. Johnson Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Charleston, SC where she provided individual, couple, group and family therapy for Veterans and their loved ones. Her second specialization was as an After-hours/Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Resident in the Counseling and Psychiatry department at the University of South Carolina (USC). Here she provided individual, group, and couples therapy for USC students and psychoeducational programming for the campus at large. Dr. Mitchell is an alumna of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning program at Howard University and currently consults for various boards and coalitions regarding mental health, diversity, inclusion, and equity.

Dr. Mitchell is the co-creator of Cuts and Conversations, an initiative to increase the retention, progression, and completion rates of Black Males at colleges, universities, and beyond. She is the co-founder of Southern Conduits, LLC which is a consulting firm that specializes in wellness management, community engagement, and program management. Jerez honors her sense of responsibility to her community and strives to advocate and implement cultural and evidence-based interventions and programs that can positively impact marginalized populations.

In her free time, Jerez enjoys spending time with her husband and son at the beach.

Tita Johnson, LPC

Tita Johnson is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over ten years of experience in the field. 

She became a counselor because she wanted to help individuals, families, and couples face challenges and to be able to walk with them through difficult situations. Her passion is helping children, adolescents, and adults heal from traumatic experiences and move towards a more fulfilling and empowered life.  She is currently a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), an LPC Supervisor (LPCS), Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC), Master Addictions Counselor (MAC) an Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC), and a Certified EMDR Therapist.  

Mrs. Johnson has a wide range of experience that has led her to work in different settings with a variety of conditions. Some of her specialty areas include trauma, depression, anxiety, family counseling, and child and adolescent issues. 

Mrs. Johnson currently works at the Charleston Counseling Center.