The Transformation of a Social Movement into Law?: The SCLC and NAACP's Campaigns for Civil Rights Reconsidered In Light of the Educational Activism of Septima Clark
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CitationTomiko Brown-Nagin, The Transformation of a Social Movement into Law?: The SCLC and NAACP's Campaigns for Civil Rights Reconsidered In Light of the Educational Activism of Septima Clark, 8 Women's Hist. Rev. 81 (1999).
AbstractThis article reconsiders the efficacy of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's (SCLC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's (NAACP's) strategies for achieving civil rights by comparing and contrasting them to the approach favored by the educator, Septima Poinsette Clark. Focusing on the relationship between literacy and the ability of individuals to achieve political and socio-economic power, Clark argued that knowledge could empower marginalized groups in ways that formal legal equality could not. Although her educational activism inlocal communities was important to the overall success of the civil rights movement, Clark is a relatively obscure historical figure; her value to the movement was underappreciated by more prominent male leaders due to gender inequality, she believed. Whatever its origins, this failure fully to appreciate the worth of activists of Clark's caliber was mistaken, this article concludes. Inattenton to the perspectives of those with educational expertise significantly undermined the overall efficacy of the NAACP's and SCLC's endeavors to achieve racial equality by compelling compliance with constitutional norms, especially with respect to the great number of abjectly impoverished people who were intended beneficiaries of their work
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