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Duplicates and fragile materials in box 3 are restricted.
The papers of Representative Robert G. Clark, Jr., date from 1963 through 1970 and are divided into five series: personal papers, Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee, community programs, Mississippi Legislature papers, and legislative research materials.
Cite as: T/007: Clark (Robert George, Jr.) Collection.
Robert George Clark, Jr., was born October 3, 1929, in Ebenezer, Holmes County, Mississippi. He was the youngest child born into the family of Robert and Julia Ann Clark. A sister, Mary Ethel, and a brother, Louis, preceded him. Clark attended the small schools in the area of Ebenezer that had been established by the Rosenwald foundation, but had to board with an aunt in Durant, Holmes County, Mississippi, when attending high school. Later Clark enrolled in Jackson State College on a work scholarship. In his second year, however, he became the first student in the school’s history to win a track scholarship. Clark graduated from Jackson State College in 1952 and immediately began teaching in the public schools in Louise, Humphreys County, Mississippi. After 1954, he enrolled in a Master’s Degree program in Administration and Educational Services at Michigan State University and pursued further studies toward a Ph.D. at that institution as well. By 1966, Clark had taken a job as the director of Adult Education and Job Training at Saints Junior College in Lexington, Holmes County, Mississippi. He also became involved in anti-poverty programs that focused on job training in Holmes County. In 1967, Clark decided to seek election to a seat in the Mississippi Legislature as an independent. With the support of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) he became a candidate. Clark was barely able to defeat J. P. Love, the white incumbent. At least, Clark’s success was in doubt until he took his seat as the first African American elected to the Mississippi legislature since Reconstruction. In 1971, Robert Clark and Essie Austin of Belzoni, Humphreys County, Mississippi, were married. They had two children, Robert George III and Bryant Wandrick.
Seven years later, Essie Austin Clark died of liver cancer. Nearly nineteen years after his wife’s death, Clark married Jo Ann Ross. They are the parents of a daughter, LaLeche. Robert Clark served with distinction in the Mississippi Legislature from 1967 until he retired in 2003. He rose to be chairman of the Education Committee. He was chairman in 1982, when the Education Reform Act was passed. Additionally, he served as chairman of the Ethics Committee and vice chairman of the Apportionment and Elections Committee. Clark, with the support of the MFDP, unsuccessfully ran for the United States House of Representatives in 1982 and 1984. In 1992, he was elected as Speaker Pro Tempore of the Mississippi House of Representatives. As of 2010, Robert Clark enjoys his retirement with his family and teaches classes at Mississippi Valley State University. In 2004, a state office building in downtown Jackson was named for Clark in recognition of his service to the state.