University of North Carolina Press, 2009
Katherine Mellen Charron’s Freedom’s Teacher, winner of the Julia Cherry Spruill prize for the best monograph on southern women’s history, has clearly won the approval of historians, but it richly deserves to reach a wider audience. From her vantage point as the daughter of a black southern teacher, Charron fully understands Septima Clark’s life and uses her story to show how black southern teachers worked for generations to provide the foundation from which the Civil Rights Movement could emerge. Her thesis, advanced through Clark’s story, posits that the schoolhouse played as important a role in the black struggle for freedom as the church. It is a personal thrill to review this book, since I had a small hand in crafting this thesis, which Charron has brought to full fruition.