PS Orals Excerpt: Citizenship Education Programs (CEPs) in South Carolina

American studies scholar Peter Ling details the backstories of these Citizenship Education Programs (CEPs) that were so successful in South Carolina, focusing on the backstage networking between white and Black middle-class elites across the South to raise funding and space for CEPs–Horton’s wife Zilphia attended celebratory dinners in Charleston for white abolitionist family the Warings and for Thurgood Marshall who was NAACP’s premier attorney at the time. Zilphia Horton evaluated the potential of Johns Island as a “demonstration community”, after which [Myles] Horton, [Esau] Jenkins, and [Septima] Clark would make their trip to the island together.

Ling further mentions differences between Horton and Jenkins in the style of teaching–Jenkins had a ministerial leadership style leveraging authority of the minister that conflicted with Horton’s expectation of non-hierarchical leadership. It was ultimately Septima Clark who smoothed tensions between the two men, asking Jenks to delegate useful work to other local community leaders. The significant presence of the Black middle-class as a funding resource and voting black in Charleston also helped support the education programs on the Islands–that would help the citizenship education programs transition from being housed at Highlander to being housed at the South Christian Leadership Conference in the 1960s.


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