Honoring Septima P. Clark

 

 

 

A historical marker was dedicated in front of civil right activist Septima P. Clark’s childhood home at 105 Wentworth St. on May 3, which would have been her 120th birthday. Septima was a fearless warrior for education and civil rights who Martin Luther King Jr. called “The Mother of the Movement.” She is known for establishing citizenship schools across the South to help teach African-American men and women to read and to encourage them to vote.

Artist Jonathan Green revealed a portrait of Septima Clark for the dedication. The portrait is being displayed at the Avery Research Center at College of Charleston.

Marcus Amaker, Charleston’s poet laureate, shares the poem “Movement’s Mother” he wrote for the dedication of the marker.

“Movement’s Mother”

By Marcus Amaker

I.
There are spirits
among us –
ghosts of grassroots movements
echoing through our soil.

Charleston’s poinsettia
was a warrior woman
who blossomed
despite an unholy city’s
unsettled winds.

She was light
through dark matter,
a sunflower
through storms,
a teacher
of feminism and freedom
with lessons
overstepping limitations
for a nation
that needed to move forward.

Stillness
was not an option.

II.
There’s a song among us.
An out-of-tune harmony
written by deep-rooted pain
with racism’s wretched refrain.

But,
a daughter of the Lowcountry
became the conductor
of change –
clearing the air
for a chorus
of beautiful black voices.

Because silence
was not an option.

III.
There’s still worry within us.
Tireless activists have died
running marathons with worn-out tears,
weary with fear,
blinded by lies.

But we can look
through the visionary eyes
of Septima Clark.

She,
who taught giants
how to be tall.

She,
who humbly rose so high
that heavenly elevation
is normalized.

Falling down
is no longer an option.

Marcus Amaker is Charleston, South Carolina’s first poet laureate and an award-winning graphic designer. He’s published seven poetry books and has been mentioned in The New York Times as well as been featured on TEDxCharleston, PBS Newshour, the A&E network, the Huffington Post, Alaska Beyond Magazine, SC Public Radio and many local media outlets.

As poet laureate, Marcus visits many schools to conduct poetry workshops and to inspire students to write. Area schools have started poetry clubs after his visits. He also created Charleston’s first poetry festival, Free Verse.