Grace Episcopal Church, 819 Madison Street, Syracuse, will host Syracuse civil rights leader Louis Clark, author of the new memoir No, We Are Not There Yet, for an open-to-the-public book signing and reception held on Sunday, April 28, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. The book is $20 and available at the book signing. Half the proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit the Grace food pantry, where Clark is a volunteer.
About the book and author:
Author Louis Clark was born on the same day as civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15) and was named after Joe Louis, the heavyweight-boxing champion who beat German Max Schmelling in 1938.
Clark’s formative connections to those two leaders set the stage for a life devoted to fighting discrimination in housing, education and employment. In Clark’s memoir, “No, We Are Not There Yet,” (Georgia Mountain Publishing, 2019) he describes experiences which drove him to become a leader of the Urban League, Onondaga County Human Rights Commission and PEACE (Peoples Equal Action Community Effort).
The reader learns of Clark’s personal experiences with housing and educational discrimination when he describes a childhood home with no running water, plumbing or electricity and writes of being the only African American student in a classroom of whites, a circumstance he endured from kindergarten through high school.
Clark’s experience with discrimination in employment began in high school when, despite being one of the top students, he was counseled to become a Pullman porter.
However, Clark worked in the advertising department of a store after high school, then joined the US Air Force, and earned an undergraduate degree from Rider College in New Jersey and master’s degrees from Syracuse University (MPA ’72) and Occidental College, where President Barack Obama also studied.
Clark’s work to fight discrimination included growing the Head Start program, working to integrate local government; keeping Onondaga County from building a penitentiary too big for the population; challenging discriminatory hiring practices in the city of Syracuse, and supporting the inclusion of African Americans in local politics.
“I may never see this country have an equal playing field for people of color,” writes Clark at the closing of his memoir. “But, like Dr. Martin Luther King, I have a dream, and my dream is that all people have the support and motivation they need.”