Clarke, John Henrik
- Rochell Isaac
educator, nationalist, Pan-Africanist, writer, historian, and poet. Born John Henry Clark to Willie Ella Mays and John Clark, a sharecropper, Clarke changed his name, legalizing Henry to Henrik and adding an “e” to Clark, thereby cementing his admiration of the Scandinavian playwright Henrik Ibsen. The Clark family moved from Union Springs, Alabama, to Columbus, Georgia, when Clarke was four years old. Clarke's mother, a laundrywoman, died of pellagra, a diet deficiency, when Clarke was still very young. With his mother's illness and subsequent death, the Clark family began to feel the effects of poverty.
Though he clearly demonstrated academic ability along with a strong desire to learn and excel Clarke s academic goals encountered much resistance As a teenager Clarke held a number of menial jobs he was a part time student and a part time farmer and worker As a result he ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present.