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Mattapan civic leader Jim Clark dies, 78

James L. Clark Sr.

James Clinton Clark, who spent his life helping black men and women get good paying jobs in trades and the MBTA, and who helped transform vacant land at the old Boston State Hospital into hundreds of new housing units, died earlier this week at 78.

Clark also served on the Boston Zoning Commission and the boards of the Mattapan Homeowners Association and the Mattapan Community Health Center. He taught English as a second language at Roxbury Community College and served as a clerk for the Boston elections department. Also, his family says:

The Clark- Cooper Community Garden project started in 1969 with 19 families and under his leadership it has grown
to over 200 gardeners from Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Dorchester, Roslindale, and Mattapan.

Clark was born in North Carolina, where he earned an unusual nickname, his family says:

For his high school graduation his mother’s employer gave his mother a wool suit for him to wear, and even though it was 90 degrees outside, his mother insisted that he wear the suit. During the graduation Jim was sweating and scratching and as a result he became known as “Itchy” by his family and friends.

After earning a bachelor's in early education at Saint Augustine College in Raleigh, NC, he became a teacher in North Carolina and then an assistant principal in Charleston, NC.

In 1965, he and his wife Dolores visited her brother in Boston, liked it and decided to stay.

Jim's first job in Boston was scheduling X-Rays at Lahey Clinic. Jim eventually moved on and began working for the Recruitment and Training Program (RTP), which was under the leadership of Civil Rights and labor movement leader A. Phillip Randolph, one of his mentors. Jim recruited, trained and placed African American men and women all over Boston into trades and jobs. For more a decade, hundreds of men and women were able to secure employment and raise their standard of living because of Jim Clark's training and direction.

Visitation at the Eliot Church of Roxbury, 120 Walnut Ave., is 10 to 11 a.m. on Jan. 21. Obituary.

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Comments

Mr. Clark was a Modern Civil Rights Icon and Community Legend. He's helped countless people gain Careers and in doing so promoted financial stability within Communities across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I'm talking Generational Wealth.

Example: A Single Parent that Immigrant comes to Boston and gets a job working at a place like GE or Ratheon. No higher education. Raise their children and do what they can to provide. The children encounter Mr. Clark who helps them get a job in the Trades or the MBTA. Those children make enough money to pay for school and put their children through High Education. Those children have Children and the cycle continues. What happens? Stronger community. This isn't a made up story folks, it's one that has happened many times over because of the Grace and dedication of Mr. Clark. He will forever be loved, remembered and missed.

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I didn't have the honor to know James "Itchy" Clark but by all accounts, it seems he was a man for others and shining example of one person helping many. This is who Boston should be naming things after. During the recent renaming controversies, I also thought of the late "Drop A Dime" founder Georgette Watson who fought crime better than most Boston cops. She later moved to Baltimore where because of her own kidney problems, she helped implement better transportation for dialysis patents. I'm not sure if she ever got anything named for her in Boston but surely deserved it. The city politicians should honor these kind of people, not themselves.

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