Clark is a veteran of the civil rights, Black Power, and Pan-African movements. She was a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and played a key role establishing equal voting rights in Selma, Alabama. She was also an organizer with the Birmingham campaign, as well as throughout Mississippi. Her work has included activism in the fields of women's rights and workers' rights, as well as activism and advocacy for homeless people and youth. She worked with the Cynthia McKinney for President campaign with "Power to the People". Clark is a member of the Reconstruction Party (USA), and is a chair of Grandmothers for the Release of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Clark was a student at Tougaloo College, an historically black college in Tougaloo, Mississippi when she became involved with the Civil Rights Movement. An activist with the NAACP, she was involved with voter registration efforts. Under the guidance of Medgar Evers and John Salter, Clark founded the NAACP Youth Council in North Jackson, Mississippi.
While working with the NAACP, she became special assistant to Medgar Evers, field secretary for the NAACP. In 1962 Clark resigned from the NAACP and joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to do voter registration work alongside her then husband, Bernard Lafayette, in Alabama. This project laid essential groundwork for the Selma voting rights campaign of 1965. She was eventually named executive secretary of SNCC. She also participated in street demonstrations and experienced police brutality in the Birmingham campaign of 1963.
In 1964, she helped found the Southern Organizing Committee at Fisk University. She was an organizer in the Black Power movement, including the Republic of New Afrika. By early 1973, she returned to Mississippi and worked on a number of other projects including the editorship of the Jackson Advocate.
Clark has been critical of the way in which the African-American Civil Rights Movement has been portrayed in popular media, particularly in the film Selma, arguing it belittles student activism and does nothing to address the legacy of inequality. She is a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, seeing it (along with the Black Power movement) as a successor to the Civil Rights Movement.
She was co-chair of the New York delegation to the Green Party of the United States presidential nominating convention, where Cynthia McKinney was nominated as the Green Party Presidential candidate. Clark is currently working on writing, activism and advocacy about Haiti.
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- Anthony Palmer "Interview with Colia LaFayette Clark: We Have to Finish the March of the Civil Rights Movement!” Socialist Organizer, March 3, 2015
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