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Collectible coin honors South Carolina civil rights leader

The $1 coin depicts Septima Poinsette Clark marching with three Black students carrying books and an American flag.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The American Innovation $1 coin program releases four new coins to honor American innovations and innovators. It’s part of the United States Mint initiative launched in late 2018. Our state is part of the newest collection released, and civil rights activist and teacher, Septima Clark, is being recognized.

“To think what is the most innovative thing to come out of South Carolina, the state chose her speaks volumes about our role in the civil rights movement, and it should be memorialized nationally,” said Benedict College’s President & CEO, Dr. Rosyln Clark Artis.

Septima Clark graduated from Benedict College and taught in the Charleston County School System but was fired for her NAACP involvement. She got a job later at Tennessee Highlander Folk School, an institution that supported integration and the civil rights movement.

“She believed during the civil rights movement that you had to educate people,” said Claflin assistant professor Dr. Arlecia Simmons. “She spent a tremendous time educating adults, advocating for educators.”

Dr. Arlecia Simmons says Clark’s work helped educate African Americans. Her efforts lead African Americans to register to vote. Previously many states used literacy tests to disenfranchise them.

“She knew people were not getting the right to vote because they could pass these tests that were placed,” explained Dr. Simmons. “It was part of what she wanted to help people become educated, not only about the ABCs but also about the political process.”

You can purchase a Septima Clark proof coin on the United States Mint website for $11.50.

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