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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Septima Poinsette Clark, July 30, 1976. Interview G-0017. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Highlander Folk School uses local election law and farming needs to teach basic skills to communities

The Highlander Folk School focused its lessons on helping people to flourish in their communities and pass local poll examinations. The school taught people specifics about local government and farming techniques as a way of conveying reading and math skills. The "other" keyword in this excerpt stands for "illiteracy."

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Septima Poinsette Clark, July 30, 1976. Interview G-0017. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

EUGENE WALKER:
So when you recruited someone, what was their responsibility other than agreeing to be one of the participants, in terms of their upkeep?
SEPTIMA POINSETTE CLARK:
They had to also promise that they would go back to the community and open up a school, and they were supposed to teach two nights a week, two hours each night. We had all of the books mimeographed that we wanted them to use in teaching.
EUGENE WALKER:
Could you demonstrate for me, not in detail, but generally what it was that you taught these people and what it was they were expected to take back to their communities?
SEPTIMA POINSETTE CLARK:
We used the election laws of that particular state to teach the reading. We used the amount of fertilizer and the amount of seeds to teach the arithmetic, how much they would pay for it and the like. We did some political work by having them to find out about the kind of government that they had in their particular community. And these were the things that we taught them when they went back home. Each state had to have its own particular reading, because each state had different requirements for the election laws.