Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Henry Davis

Second Advisor

Dr. Benjamin Wilson

Third Advisor

Dr. Bruce Haight

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This thesis will present historical data to summarize the contributions of four key African-American female figures of the civil rights era. The theme is devoted to the historical contributions of these women. Their achievements will be shown to have answered to human needs during the struggle for African American civil and human rights. These achievements were preceded by their personal perceptions as to what constituted tenable rights and needs, introspection, and their willingness to assume a leadership stance and leadership roles.

This written historical assessment will illustrate the chain of events, social and geographical particulars which triggered participation in the civil rights struggle by Septima Clark, Ella Baker, Diane Nash and Fannie Lou Hamer respectively. Through a brief biography of each figure, and a discussion of how each woman overcame personal and social obstacles, it will be shown that they collectively provided the backbone of the struggle for civil rights. This was accomplished by each figure without consciously seeking social recognition or personal acclaim. They were true revolutionaries in that each one of them risked either life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness at some point in their careers. The historical ramifications and impact of their participation in the hostile racial and condescending gender arena of the civil rights era will be highlighted.