African American women have always been vital to the Civil Rights Movement. Scholar Belinda Robnett argues that while Black women were usually kept from leadership positions in national organizations, their labor and sacrifice were essential in keeping the movement going.
African American Women in Civil Rights Movement
Below I have given two African American women in the Civil Rights Movement.
Septima Poinsette Clark
Septima Poinsette Clark was a trailblazer for civil rights and education. Born in 1898 in Charleston, South Carolina, she faced discrimination as a Black educator, limited to teaching in rural, underfunded schools. However, she refused to be silenced and joined the NAACP, where she fought for equal rights in education.
Despite facing backlash and losing her teaching position, Clark dedicated her time to activism, creating educational programs to empower the African American community. She designed the Citizenship Schools, providing literacy instruction and voter registration. She served as a coordinator of the program.
Clark’s work was recognized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which appointed her as Director of Education and Teaching. Despite facing discrimination and marginalization, Clark’s work and determination were instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement. She truly embodied the spirit of grassroots activism and citizenship education.
Fannie Lou Hamer
Fannie Lou Hamer was one of the most powerful and influential African American women in the Civil Rights Movement. Born in 1917 in Mississippi, she was a sharecropper who worked tirelessly to end segregation and discrimination in the state. She rose to national reputation in 1964 during Freedom Summer, where she co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) and fought for voting rights for Black Americans. Despite facing opposition and discrimination, Hamer spoke up about the harsh conditions in Mississippi.
Despite not winning political office, she continued to fight for civil rights. She was part of the Mississippi delegation to the 1968 Democratic National Convention, where she protested the Vietnam War. Hamer’s strength and determination in the face of adversity made her an inspiration and leader in the Civil Rights Movement.
Despite facing discrimination and marginalization, African American women were instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement.