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The Role Of African American Women In The Civil Rights Movement

2573 words - 10 pages

The African American Civil Rights Movement was a series of protests in the United States South from approximately 1955 through 1968. The overall goal of the Civil Rights Movement was to achieve racial equality before the law. Protest tactics were, overall, acts of civil disobedience. Rarely were they ever intended to be violent. From sit-ins to boycotts to marches, the activists involved in the Civil Rights Movement were vigilant and dedicated to the cause without being aggressive. While African-American men seemed to be the leaders in this epic movement, African-American women played a huge role behind the scenes and in the protests.
When discussing the American Civil Rights Movement, the names that seem to come up are those of prominent black men. While these men did enormous amounts of good during this movement, there are many women who seem to be poorly represented or credited. Black women had a huge amount of influence during the Civil Rights Movement. While many of the protests and movements were led by men, the women were behind the scenes organizing and promoting and popularizing the ideas themselves. Many women were heavily involved in political organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and many others. Even if they were not directly involved in organizations, however, many black women became informal leaders of movements and/or enthusiastic participants. A few famous example of black women’s involvement are: Citizenship Schools in South Carolina, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, And various women’s involvement in political groups and organizations.
One of the most influential women involved in the Civil Rights Movement was Septima Poinsette Clark. While she is sometimes overlooked in studying this series of protests and movements, Clark played a major role in the success they obtained. However, unlike many protest leaders, Clark’s most influential work was done behind the scenes. Septima Poinsette Clark was an educator first and foremost. She got a job teaching as soon as she graduated from high school and taught children during the day and illiterate adults at night. She first got involved in political activism when she began campaigning for equal salaries for teachers regardless of their race. She also joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which eventually cost Clark her job. Because she was unable to find work, she was forced to move to Monteagle, Tennessee where she worked as a teacher at Highlander Folk School. This is where Septima Clark would make her mark on history. She began by teaching “literacy cources” where she would teach uneducated adults simple things like how to fill out a voter registration card or a driver’s license forms. Clark saw a need for this type of education and realized that this was the key to the advancement of the African...

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