Septima Poinsette Clark - Marriage and Children

Marriage and Children

In May 1920, Septima Poinsette married seaman Nerie Clark, Sr.. The couple had a daughter who died one month after birth and also has a son, Neri Clark, Jr. The three moved to Dayton, Ohio, but after Nerie Sr. died of kidney problems in December 1925, Clark, struggling to support her son, stayed with Nerie's relatives in Dayton and Hickory, North Carolina.

She settled in Columbia, South Carolina in 1929, and accepted a teaching position that year. In total, it appears that Septima Clark spent a total of 17 years in Columbia, South Carolina. Much of her work there is documented by the University of South Carolina History Department which, under the direction of Dr. B. J. Donaldson, has conducted extensive research on African American education, with special emphasis on the history of the Booker T. Washington High School. In 1929, Septima Clark was employed at Booker T. Washington where she is still remembered as an outstanding educator. She worked closely with the principals of Booker T. Washington High School, both C. A. Johnson who recruited her for the teaching position she would hold for 17 years and later with J. Andrew Simmons, who was originally from Charleston and whom she may have known previous to their working together in Columbia. While in Columbia, Septima Clark completed the foundations upon which her career, reputation, and memory would rest: she became a highly valued faculty member at Booker T. Washington High School, she completed her Bachelor's degree at Columbia's Benedict College, and she completed her graduate studies at New York's Columbia University and Atlanta's Clark College. The level and quality of the education that Septima Clark achieved was typical of what was required by the administrators of the Booker T. Washington High School of Columbia who recruited highly trained teachers from all over the country. After J. Andrew Simmons left Booker T. Washington High School to take a position in New York in 1945, Septima Clark stayed on for two additional years, before finally leaving Booker T. Washington High School, an institution she had helped to mold, in order to return to Charleston, SC to take care of her ailing mother, Victoria.

During this time, Clark had trouble providing for Nerie, Jr. In 1935, she decided to send him back to Hickory to live with his paternal grandparents. Clark's decision to send Nerie, Jr. to live with his paternal grandparents was a common action at this time due to slavery and financial issues. Septima Poinsette Clark's marriage to Nerie David Clark resulted in a course of depression for Clark, as well as a significant decline in her self-confidence.

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