By Mary Alice Miller
Descendants of African people gathered from all over the region to bring collective memory in tribute to Dr. John Henrik Clarke. The event, held at Boys and Girls High School, was hosted by the Board for the Education of People of African Ancestry. Remembrances for Dr. Clarke came from Newark City Councilman Ras Baraka, Rev. Herbert Oliver, Brother Lucien Pinckney and Sister Yaa Asantewa.
Dr. Adelaide Sanford’s keynote presentation spoke of what Dr. Clarke would say about the Trayvon Martin verdict and what African-Americans should do in response.
Five prominent African-Americans were presented with special recognition for their service to Clarke House and the community.
Mike Tyson was recognized in absentia for giving $10,000 to Clarke House after he was released from prison. Dr. Clarke had written to Tyson regularly while he was incarcerated, recognizing Tyson’s humanity no matter his circumstances. Tyson’s generosity contributed to Clarke House being able to burn its mortgage.
Madeline Moore Burrell was honored for initiating the idea of using patches of a quilt to fund-raise for Clarke House. Within three months, Burrell’s efforts raised $200,000 and allowed Clarke House to burn its mortgage.
Lawyer-to-the-stars L. Londell McMillan was recognized for donating $10,000 to Clarke House and as Dr. Sanford said, “For his singularity as a very prominent and successful young man who works with entertainers when the entertainers and the athletes have not always recognized Dr. Clarke’s value and what he has meant to our people”.
Susan Taylor contributed to Clarke House by hosting an event with high-profile entertainers to help burn the mortgage. “She has dedicated her life after her retirement from Essence to the National Cares Program,” said Dr. Sanford.
Though Viola Plummer is currently in Zimbabwe to observe the July 31 national elections at the request of President Robert Mugabe, she was honored for her lifetime of work with the December 12 Movement.
Lisa Noble received a special recognition for The Gil Noble Archives in honor of “All that Gil did for our people, as well as Clarke House”, said Dr. Sanford.