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Septima Poinsette Clark (1898-1987) is one of the masterminds behind the Civil Rights Movement (1954-1968). Clark frequently employed proverbs, and proverbial expressions as she worked diligently behind the scenes teaching literacy to the poor and disenfranchised so that they would be able to register themselves to vote and take part in political decision-making processes that impacted their lives daily. Clark’s autobiographies, interviews, and other biographical materials largely illustrate that proverbial language helped Clark to connect to people. Proverbial language also helped Clark to communicate important values, beliefs, and pedagogical philosophy. The adult literacy programs that Clark developed fueled the voting registration drives of several important organizations including: Highlander Folk School, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). This essay highlights some of the proverbial language that Clark used as she helped to shape the Civil Rights Movement.
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