Mr. Jackson. – The first black woman elected to the Mississippi legislature said Tuesday she will not seek another term 38 years after she first took office.
Democratic Rep. Alice Clark, 83, announced her decision one day before the deadline for candidates to run statewide, regional, legislative and county offices in Mississippi.
“You can’t make a difference if you don’t sit at the table, and I’m glad we’re finally at the negotiating table,” Clarke told the Associated Press after announcing to colleagues in the House.
The first black man to win a seat in the Mississippi Legislature in the 20th century was unrelated Robert Clark, a Democrat from Ebenezer who was elected in 1967.
Alice Clark won the March 1985 special election. Her time as the only black woman in Congress has been relatively short since Jackson Democrat Alice Harden won a seat in the state Senate in 1987.
Although several black women have since been elected to Mississippi’s 122 House of Representatives and 52 Senate, women generally remain a minority in both houses.
When Clark arrived, there were only three white women in Congress. Men had restrooms near the Houses of Parliament on her third floor of the Capitol, but women had to go to restrooms on another floor. This was an inconvenience of not being able to sneak out during long discussions.
Early in her career, Clark said she saw a House employee hand over the key to the women’s restroom on the second floor to one of her white female colleagues. Clark was all the way down to the first-floor public restroom.
“I’m an idiot,” Clarke recalled Tuesday. And when I saw the other two women giving each other weird looks, I said, “Something’s wrong about this.”
She went home and told her husband, “I said, ‘White women have toilets.
Her husband urged her to call a reporter. She did, and the only black female congressman’s cynicism made headlines.
Clark said that when she arrived at the Capitol the next day, a security guard gave her the key to a private bathroom and was being summoned to meet then-Democrat Speaker of the House CB “Buddy” Newman.
Clark said Neumann, who clearly didn’t read the newspapers, would encourage the committee to install new women’s toilets near the House floor if she promised not to speak to the media about the toilet situation. said to
“I said, ‘I told them last night, so I promise not to tell them,'” Clark said.
In a relatively short period of time, female legislators had the same easy access to restrooms as their male colleagues, and women’s restrooms were installed in the space previously used for men’s shoeshine stands.
Toilet parity aside, Clark said on Tuesday that women have made a difference in the legislative process.
“When you happen to be on a committee, you often find yourself thinking things they don’t think,” she said. seems to be more concerned with keeping out of prison.”
Democratic Rep. Ed Blackmon — who shared a two-person desk with Clark on the House floor for many years — said Tuesday that Clark achieved his goals by being persistent.
“She annoys you—I’ll put it that way,” Blackmon said with a laugh.
Early in her career as a legislator, Clark pushed for the establishment of Born Free, a drug and alcohol treatment center for pregnant women. She felt the need for this program while working in the Nutrition Program at the Public Health Center.
In the 1990s, she led efforts to establish Mississippi’s first drug court, providing surveillance, drug testing, and treatment services to keep some people out of prison.
She also helped convince colleagues to establish a state lottery. Clark introduced a lottery bill for 19 years before lawmakers voted in 2018 to create a lottery to help pay for highways. Recognizing her tenacity, the House and Senate voted to name the bill the Alice G. Clarke Mississippi Lottery Act.When the lottery went on sale in 2019, Clark said Jackson’s Convenience at her store. I bought the first ticket for the commemoration.
Republican Philip Gunn, the current Speaker of the House, said on Tuesday that Clark served with dignity and dignity.
“You make Mississippi proud,” he told Clark, her colleagues applauding.
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.