2003 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Representative Ford, Brown

House Resolution 43

(As Adopted by House)


     WHEREAS, Robert George Clark, Jr., Speaker Pro Tempore of the Mississippi House of Representatives, is completing his ninth consecutive term as a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives from District 47, which includes Attala, Holmes and Yazoo Counties; and

     WHEREAS, Speaker Pro Tempore Clark, a native of Holmes County, Mississippi, was born on October 3, 1928, in Ebenezer, Mississippi, later earning an undergraduate degree from Jackson State University and a master's degree in administration and educational services from Michigan State University, in addition to studies at Mississippi Valley State University, Florida A & M University, Western Michigan University and as a 1979 teaching fellow of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; and

     WHEREAS, Speaker Pro Tempore Clark began his journey of contribution to Mississippi by becoming a teacher, coach and principal in our state's school system where he fell in love with Mississippi's future--its children, setting aside his initial ambition to become an attorney; and

     WHEREAS, Speaker Pro Tempore Clark also dreamed of becoming a missionary in Africa, but when calls to that vocation were presented to him, he decided that there was more than enough "missionary" work to do for the children of Mississippi; and

     WHEREAS, during his teaching and coaching career, Speaker Pro Tempore Clark instilled in his students the values of courage and knowledge, challenging them to learn and to play sports with the same principles that they should live by; and

     WHEREAS, recognizing that the parents of his students could better contribute to the education of their children if they could assist their children with their schoolwork, in 1966, Speaker Pro Tempore Clark sought to create an adult education program in the school district in which he was teaching; and

     WHEREAS, his entry into the political arena began when the local school board denied his request to start the adult education program, and in disapproving his request, the board promised that if the local superintendent of education would approve of such a program, the board would endorse it, whereupon Speaker Pro Tempore Clark announced his candidacy for the office of superintendent; and

     WHEREAS, before the next election for superintendent, the Mississippi Legislature enacted a law changing the superintendent's position from elected to appointed, prompting Speaker Pro Tempore Clark's decision to run for the Mississippi House of Representatives; and

     WHEREAS, Speaker Pro Tempore Clark was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives and began his service as a member of the House in 1968, becoming the first African American elected to the Mississippi Legislature since Reconstruction and since that time, he has become known as a fair and honest leader; and

     WHEREAS, over the years since his election to the House, Speaker Pro Tempore Clark has gained his stature as a statesman, rising from freshman lawmaker to House Education Committee Chairman and culminating in his 1992 election by his colleagues to the Office of Speaker Pro Tempore, the leadership post second only to the Speaker of the House; and

     WHEREAS, as Chairman of the Education Committee, Speaker Pro Tempore Clark led the House to pass many important education acts, most notably the 1982 Education Reform Act, the 1984 Vocational Education Reform Act and the recent Education Enhancement Act; and

     WHEREAS, as Speaker Pro Tempore, he serves as Chairman of the House Management Committee, which oversees the vital internal business and personnel affairs of the House, and he is the patriarch of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus; and

     WHEREAS, Speaker Pro Tempore Clark was one of the founding members of Central Mississippi, Inc., an antipoverty program in Central Mississippi, which has been instrumental in preparing rural children to enter the mainstream public schools; helped organize the Milton Olive III Memorial Corporation of Holmes County, an antipoverty program designed to provide essential medical care to individuals; served as Director of Project Second Start at Saints Junior College, an organization that focused on giving adults an opportunity to develop vocational skills; and organized the Fine Housing Enterprise Program which allowed numerous poor families in the county to afford decent housing; and

     WHEREAS, Speaker Pro Tempore Clark has received numerous awards and honors during his career, including the Alumnus of the Year Award from Jackson State University, the Award of Distinction and Outstanding Leadership Award from the University of Mississippi and the Outstanding Achievement Award for Education in Mississippi; and

     WHEREAS, currently, Speaker Pro Tempore Clark is involved with Holmes County 21st Century Commission, an organization which he organized for the purpose of preparing county residents for the 21st century through education, skill development and examples of successful work ethic; and

     WHEREAS, Speaker Pro Tempore Clark is the subject of a new book, Robert G. Clark's Journey to the House:  A Black Politician's Story, by Will D. Campbell, which reflects on Clark's political career and his contributions to contemporary politics and culture in our state; and

     WHEREAS, Speaker Pro Tempore Clark has been praised by many for his vision and constructive leadership, called a "true champion" by Speaker Tim Ford who also notes that Speaker Pro Tempore Clark "...has always been the type...to sit down and work things out and he's been...a tremendous asset...."; and

     WHEREAS, in addition to his career as an educator and statesman, Speaker Pro Tempore Clark has been a businessman and rancher, a faithful member of the Baptist Church and the Elks, and all during his life he has been a dedicated family man, raising  his two sons by his deceased wife, Essie, on his own before his union with his lovely and gracious wife, the former Jo Ann Ross, who has lovingly supported him and their children, LaLeche, Robert George III and Bryant Wandrick, in all their endeavors; and

     WHEREAS, Speaker Pro Tempore Clark has indicated that he will retire at the expiration of his present term, and the members of this House wish to express sincere appreciation to Mr. Speaker Pro Tempore for his dedicated service to the people of the State of Mississippi and the personal sacrifices that he has made on their behalf:

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, That we do hereby commend our friend, colleague and leader, Robert George Clark, Jr., for all that he has meant to the Mississippi House of Representatives and for his unmatched contributions to the people of the State of Mississippi.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be furnished to Speaker Pro Tempore Robert George Clark, Jr., and to the members of the Capitol Press Corps.