House Resolution 195

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MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE  |  2023 Regular Session  |  To: Rules  | By: Representative Holloway


WHEREAS, the lovely, honorable and distinguished Lady from Hinds, Representative Alyce Griffin Clarke, a true champion of District 69, who has not only worked tirelessly for her district – District 69, Hinds County, and this great state as a whole, is retiring after 38 years of invaluable service that has positively changed the lives of Mississippians; and

     WHEREAS, Representative Clarke, who is a political trailblazer and pioneer in her own right as she is the first African-American woman elected to the Mississippi Legislature, serves as a living legend who continues to inspire young women and men as she has left an admired ingrained mark in her public service; and

     WHEREAS, the roots of Representative Clarke’s journey to greatness began as a child in the small community of Deovelente, Mississippi, in Humphreys County, where she was reared in love by her parents, Mr. Henry Griffin and Mrs. Fannie Alice Merriweather Griffin, who reared her with a staunch work ethic, which she has applied throughout her wonderfully blessed life; and

     WHEREAS, Representative Clarke, who is affectionately referred to as “Myrt” by her family and close friends due to her middle name being Myrtle, graduated from McNair High School in 1957, in Belzoni, Mississippi, and notably, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in home economics in 1961 from her beloved Alcorn State University (ASU), which she is known to show her adoration for adorning purple and gold attire on a frequent basis;  and

     WHEREAS, in addition to earning a degree from ASU, Representative Clarke earned a master’s degree from Tuskegee Institute in home economics with an emphasis in nutrition in 1965, and she has also had additional studies at Jackson State University and Mississippi College, which speaks to her love of education; and

     WHEREAS, before assuming her role as an esteemed legislator, Representative Clarke helped her community by serving as an instructor for the Washington County Public School District (1962-1970); served with Mississippi Action for Progress – Head Start (1970-1972); Director of Nutrition and WIC Services – Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center (1972-1987) and notably, in that role as director, she is responsible for implementing the first WIC program in the state; and

     WHEREAS, after Representative Clarke was elected to the Legislature, she continued to make contributions as a valuable team member with New York Life Insurance Company (1985-2000) and Improving the Quality of Life Consulting Services (1995-2005); and

     WHEREAS, although Representative Clarke made priceless contributions to her community before being elected, upon her election to the House of Representatives in March of 1985 in a special election, she became the distinguished Lady from Hinds upon being sworn into office and wasted no time requesting the legislation, amendments and reports that would not only help her constituents in District 69 but also help this great state as a whole; and

     WHEREAS, upon being elected, Representative Clarke faced certain challenges upon her arrival to the House because she was the only female African American in the Legislature, and one such challenge was that her fellow female colleagues did not inform her that they had a special restroom for their use; and

     WHEREAS, undaunted by her exclusion from the special restroom for her white female colleagues, Representative Clarke, who is known for ensuring that all people are treated equally, made sure that more restrooms for women were placed throughout the Capitol, which is truly an enduring legacy that benefits women who work and visit our beautiful Capitol; and  

     WHEREAS, Representative Clarke has served in various leadership roles in the House of Representatives, which are as follows:  Vice Chair of the Drug Policy Committee (2016-2020); Vice Chair of the Education Committee (2012-2016); Chair of the Ethics Committee (2008-2012); Vice Chair of the Interstate Cooperation Committee (1988-1995); Chair of the PEER Committee (1995-1996); Chair of the State Library Committee (2000-2004) and Vice Chair of the Ways and Means Committee (1996-2000); and

     WHEREAS, in addition to her leadership roles as chair and vice chair throughout her nearly 40 years in the House of Representatives, Representative Clarke has served as a contributing member in other legislative committees such as:  Banks and Banking; County Affairs; Public Health and Welfare; Municipalities; Juvenile Justice; Judiciary B; Universities and Colleges; Appropriations; Tourism; Youth and Family Affairs; Banking and Financial Services and Gaming; and

     WHEREAS, not one to limit her community involvement to the Legislature, Representative Clarke has always been active in District 69 and dedicated to improving the quality of life for all as evidenced by her service with various entities such as:  Pecan Tree Park Neighborhood Association, president; Jackson Takes a Stand (Jackson State University) Advisory Council; Board of Directors of Southeastern Regional Visions for Education; founder of Born Free; member of New Hope Foundation; Connecting the Dots; National Multiple Sclerosis Society; Alcorn State University Alumni Association; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; Mississippi Infant Mortality Task Force; West Central Jackson Improvement Association; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; National Association of Community Health Centers; National Association of Drug Court Professionals; Jack and Jill of America, Inc.; Mississippi Public Health Association; Regional Association of Drug Free Schools and Communities and State PTA; and  

     WHEREAS, due to her leadership, Representative Clarke has been recognized with various awards, some of which include:  WIC Nutrition Coordinator of the Year (1985); Alcornite of the Year (1987); Fannie Lou Hamer Award (1987); Medgar Evers Award (1987); Outstanding Volunteers Award (1992); Policymakers Leadership Award (1995); University of Mississippi’s Award of Distinction (1997); Women’s History Month Legacy Award (1997) as well as being honored at the 2023 annual luncheon held by Sisters Taking Action and Nurturing Decision-Makers (S.T.A.N.D.) – just to name a few; and   

     WHEREAS, notably, as a mark of her steadfastness in state government, Representative Clarke, during her nearly four decades in the House, served under seven Governors, beginning with Bill Allain, seven Lieutenant Governors, beginning with Brad Dye and four House Speakers, beginning with Buddie Newman; and  

     WHEREAS, Representative Clarke has introduced over 1,500 bills and one of the highlights of her successful legislative career was a bill she introduced in 1986 entitled Born Free Act, and this act, which stemmed from her work with women, infants and children, is currently operated as Born Free/New Beginnings by Catholic Charities; and

     WHEREAS, Representative Clarke also authored a bill creating  Mississippi’s International Baccalaureate Diploma program, and in 2003, after years of advocacy for a more comprehensive  rehabilitative approach for criminal defendants who committed crimes while under the influence of alcohol/drugs, the Alyce Griffin Clarke Drug Court Act, Senate Bill 2605, was passed; and

     WHEREAS, in 2018, after 19 years of pursuing a lottery law, the Alyce G. Clarke Mississippi Lottery Law, Senate Bill 2001, from the 1st Extraordinary Session of 2018, was signed into law, which authorized the first $80 million in annual lottery proceeds to go to infrastructure and anything beyond that amount goes to education; and

     WHEREAS, additionally, in 2019, House Bill 1160 was signed into law, and in this legislation, Mississippi’s first pediatric palliative care center was established and due to the work of Representative Clarke and her love for children, the facility will be named the Alyce G. Clarke Center for Medically Fragile Children; and

     WHEREAS, in addition to having legislation and a medical facility named in her honor, Representative Clarke is depicted on a mural entitled “Chain Breakers”, on Jackson State University’s COFO Civil Rights Education Building, where she, along with five other civil rights legends, one of which is Fannie Lou Hamer, are forever memorialized – a well-deserved honor as she blazed a path for equality; and

     WHEREAS, as one who is known for her trademark greeting of “I am blessed and how are you,” and who has governed and led by her Christian values, Representative Clarke’s genesis of the instillment of her Christian values stem from Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, where she was baptized, and her values have blossomed as a dedicated member of Cade Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, where she served as an usher or gatekeeper for the House of the Lord for 34 years; and   

     WHEREAS, the service of Representative Clarke would be without honor but for the continued support, encouragement and love of her family, which included her husband of 32 years, Mr. Lee William Clarke, who was her number one cheerleader until his passing in 2004, and their successful son, DeMarquis Clarke, both of whom sacrificed countless hours without her in order that she could fulfill her legislative obligations; and   

     WHEREAS, it is the policy of the House of Representatives to honor the indelible legacy of remarkable service of our colleague and friend, Representative Alyce Griffin Clarke, who represented District 69, Hinds County, this body and the people of this state with honor and intrepid dignity for 38 years:

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, That we do hereby commend the most honorable, distinguished Lady from Hinds, Representative Alyce Griffin Clarke, for her esteemed and laudable legislative career and public service, and express fondest respect and best wishes for continued success in all her future endeavors.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be furnished to Representative Alyce G. Clarke and to the members of the Capitol Press Corps.

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House Resolution 195

By Jackson Advocate News Service
January 29, 2024