The United States Mint American Innovation $1 Coin Program is a multi-year series honoring innovation and innovators with $1 coins from each State, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana Islands. The American Innovation $1 Coins in the rolls and bags have uncirculated finishes and were minted at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. The South Carolina coin was the fourth and final coin minted in 2020.
The American Innovation $1 Coin representing South Carolina honors educator and civil rights activist Septima Poinsette Clark.
Educator and activist Septima Poinsette Clark has been called the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.” Born May 3, 1898, in Charleston, SC, she was a social innovator and pioneer who shined the spotlight on the crucial link between education and political organizing aimed at gaining the right to vote.
Young Septima attended Avery Normal Institute, a private school for African Americans in Charleston. After earning her bachelor's degree at Benedict College and master’s at Hampton Institute, she obtained a teaching license, but local laws at the time prohibited African Americans from teaching in public schools, so she instead became an instructor on South Carolina’s Johns Island. She later returned to Charleston to teach at Avery and joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Clark later worked at Tennessee’s Highlander Folk School as director of its citizen school program focused on basic literacy and math skills. Her efforts increased voter registration, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference later took over this critical education project, with her as its director of education and teaching. Under her leadership, Clark helped establish more than 800 citizenship schools.
The reverse (tails) depicts Septima Clark marching with three young African American students carrying books and an American flag, representing that education and literacy among oppressed people is necessary for empowerment and enjoyment of civil rights. The inscriptions are “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “SEPTIMA CLARK,” and “SOUTH CAROLINA.”
The obverse (heads) design features a dramatic representation of the Statue of Liberty in profile with the inscriptions “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “$1.” The obverse also includes a privy mark of a stylized gear, representing industry and innovation.
The year of minting, mint mark, and the inscription “E PLURIBUS UNUM” are incused on the edge of the coins.