The United States Mint American Innovation $1 Coin Program is a multi-year series to honor 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 United States Mint is proud to celebrate innovation and honor the spirit of America with the 2020 American Innovation $1 Reverse Proof Coin from the State of South Carolina.
Educator and activist Septima Poinsette Clark has been called the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.” Born May 3, 1898, in Charleston, South Carolina, 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 (NAACP).
Clark did eventually become a teacher in the Charleston City Schools but was fired for her activism in the NAACP. She later worked at Tennessee’s Highlander Folk School as director of its citizenship school program focused on basic literacy and math skills in communities of need. Her efforts led to more voter registration at a time when many States still used literacy tests to disenfranchise African Americans. In 1961, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference took over this critical education project, with Clark as its director of education and teaching. Under her leadership, she helped establish more than 800 citizenship schools.
The obverse (heads) design features a dramatic representation of the Statue of Liberty in profile with the inscriptions “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “$1.” It also includes a privy mark of a stylized gear, representing industry and innovation.
The reverse (tails) design depicts Septima Clark with three African American students carrying books and an American flag, representing that education and literacy are necessary for empowerment and enjoyment of civil rights. The inscriptions are “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “SEPTIMA CLARK,” and “SOUTH CAROLINA.”
The edge-incused inscriptions are “2020,” “S” mint mark, and “E PLURIBUS UNUM.”