Historic Lawmaker Repeats ‘I am Somebody’ Theme
CLARKSDALE – Applauding retired state Rep. Robert G. Clark, the first African-American elected to Mississippi’s House of Representative, hundreds of students at Coahoma Community College Monday chanted his keynote theme: “I will no longer hang my head low, because I am somebody.”
Opening CCC’s Black History Month finale, Rep Clark said, “No where through grade school or high school or college, did I hear anything about the history of African Americans.”
“We don’t know who we are; we have to pick it up by bits and pieces,” recalls the legislator credited with overseeing the passage of the Education Reform Act of 1982.
“We are a group of civilized individuals from Africa put together through the slave trade,” he said.
Clark says in Mississippi when most students went to school eight months of the year, African American students went home two months for their cotton sacks and another two months to get their hoe and go to the cotton field.
Addressing CCC students, Clark said, “I am not worried about you, but about the others out there who don’t know who they are. The sky is the limit for you.”
“I’ve done all I can; I did not stop fighting,” said Clark describing how he personally steered the Education Reform Act to a vote despite initial “you are out of order” threats.
“The bill was called for consideration; it passed, and young African Americans can stand for something, and know they are someone,” said Clark.
Dr. Rosetta Howard, vice president of academic affairs, praised Clark’s address, and Dr. Vivian Presley, college president, said, “He knew he had a purpose”
Monday’s program included music and dance by Coahoma’s Band under the direction of James McLeod; choral music by the CCC Concert Choir under the direction of Kelvin Towers; a poetic drama, “Dare to Change,” by freshman Breunna Faust; the dramatization of Dr. King’s “I Had A Dream” address by freshman Londynn Jones; the invocation by sophomore Chris Tanner; the purpose by SGA president Yasmine Williams; greetings by Miss CCC Melody Dixon; and introduction of the guest speaker by sophomore Sam Miller III. Presiding was freshman Delois Boyd.
Representative Clark served 36 years in the House of Representatives and served as Speaker ProTem in the House for 16 years.