Rev. Donald Clark, civil rights activist in Las Vegas, dies at 84

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Sun archives From left, Fletcher Jones Jr., Jerry Mack, Clark County Commissioner Donald Clark and Robert Mayer Evans participate in an Israel Bonds event at the Riviera on Dec. 9, 1984.

When Rev. Donald Clark didn’t show up for Sunday services at Life Care Center, his friends sensed something was wrong. In 18 years at the center, he was rarely absent.

They called the fire department to his home on Tonopah Drive, the very same West Las Vegas house he had actually lived in since the 1960s, to find an ailing Clark. He died 6 days in the future Saturday at age 84.

Clark, who pertained to Southern Nevada in 1952 from his native New Orleans when he was stationed at Nellis Flying force Base, made his mark as a civil liberties activist. He was the head of the local NAACP, served on the Clark County commission and worked tirelessly for equal rights, including the combination of black employees on the Strip.

Clark, together with other activists James McMillan and Charles West, lobbied Gov. Grant Sawyer and other authorities to start integration in Las Vegas. It became his life’s work– and a responsibility he desired little credit for.

Clark was designated to the Clark County Commission in 1984 to fill the unexpired regard to Woodrow Wilson, who had resigned after being founded guilty in an FBI bribery sting called Operation Yobo. Clark served out the term but did not look for election to the commission.

“To this day he [Donald Clark] remains steadfast in his refusal to accept public acknowledgment for his pioneering activities that have contributed so strongly to black development in Nevada,” wrote Everett Louis Overstreet in his 1999 book “Black Steps in the Desert Sands” that narrated African-American influence in the development of Las Vegas.

Clark was the owning force behind the local Economic Opportunity Board, which introduced the Operation Independence program under his management. That used day-care services, a head start program for young children and legal aid to bad households.

To fulfill westside families and to comprehend their requirements, Clark in the 1960s took a job as a milkman with Anderson Dairy.

“That is how he was familiar with people. That was a method to become knowledgeable about people,” stated Yolanda Clark Brandon, his daughter. “He came to Las Vegas and struck the ground running.”

Clark was preceded in death by his spouse of 53 years, Louise. She was his high school sweetie. The had four children — Donna Clark, Cornell Clark, Yolanda Clark Brandon and Betty Clark Crane.

“The focus was constantly education and being the very best person we could be,” Brandon said. “He demanded quality. He constantly stated you have to know your helpful purpose– when you go someplace, why are you there and what are you doing.”

Clark, among six children, is endured by his sis, Lois Washington. He is also survived by four grandchildren, Miles Brandon, Taylor Brandon, Tiffani Peoples and Anastasia Dextra.

Providers are arranged for 10 a.m. Saturday at Second Baptist Church, 500 Madison Ave. Visitation is 3 p.m-7 p.m. at Bunkers Mortuary, 925 Las Vegas Blvd.

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