David A. Clarke

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For other people, see David Clarke.

David Allen "Dave" Clarke (October 13, 1943 – March 27, 1997)[1] was a civil rights worker, lawyer, and Democratic politician in Washington, D.C. He was elected as one of the original members of the Council of the District of Columbia in 1974 when D.C. gained home rule, and he later served as the council's chairman from 1983 to 1991 and then again after the 1993 death of John A. Wilson until his own death in 1997.

The David A. Clarke School of Law was named after Clarke in 1998.

Early life and education[edit]

Clarke was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in its Shaw and Skyland neighborhoods, attending D.C. public schools Thompson Elementary, Jefferson High, and Western High School. He continued his education in D.C., obtaining a B.A. in religion from George Washington University in 1965[2] and a J.D. from the Howard University School of Law.[3]

Before his service on Council, he was counsel and Director of the Washington Bureau of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and was legal assistant to the N.A.A.C.P Legal Defense Fund. He also served as a program evaluator for the U.S. Senate Committee on Nutrition. In 1974, David Clark was elected as the Ward One Representative on the Council of the District of Columbia- first Council elected by District of Columbia voters. During his eight years as the representative of Ward One, he was chairperson of the Judiciary Committee, a member of the Council’s Housing and Finance committee, and chairperson of the Public Safety Committee of the Metropolitan Council of Governments.[4]

Political career[edit]

  • November 5, 1974 — elected Ward 1 council member[5]
  • November 7, 1978 — reelected Ward 1 council member[5]
  • November 2, 1982 — elected council chairman[5]
  • November 4, 1986 — reelected council chairman[5]
  • September 11, 1990 — ran for mayor and was defeated in primary by Sharon Pratt Dixon[5]
  • September 14, 1993 — elected council chairman in special election after death of John A. Wilson[5] with 47 percent, beating Charlene Drew Jarvis (29 percent), Linda Cropp (16 percent), and Marie Drissel (6 percent)[6]
  • November 8, 1994 — reelected council chairman[5]
  • December 30, 1996 — entered Georgetown University Hospital; council chairman pro tempore Charlene Drew Jarvis took over as acting chairman[7]
  • March 27, 1997 — died in office[5]


Clarke received numerous awards for his community service initiatives including Outstanding Alumnus Award, Greater Washington Howard University Law School Alumni Association, Achievement Award, Elks Department of Civil Liberties League # 194, Human Rights Award, Ancient Independent Order of Moses, and the Washington Inner City Self-Help, Outstanding Service to Community Award.[2]


  1. ^ "Moments from life of activist leader". The Washington Times. 1997-03-31. Retrieved 2008-07-12. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b David A. Clarke Finding Aid, Special Collections Research Center, Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, The George Washington University
  3. ^ "David A. Clarke (D) [from voter guide]". The Washington Post. 1995-01-11. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. "Historical Elected Officials". Archived from the original on 2008-07-09. Retrieved 2008-07-13. 
  6. ^ Sanchez, Rene (1993-09-15). "Clarke Elected Council Chairman; Jarvis, Cropp Beaten Soundly in Seven of Eight D.C. Wards". The Washington Post. p. A01. Retrieved 2008-08-02. 
  7. ^ Harris, Hamil R. (2007-02-02). "With Jarvis in Driver's Seat, D.C. Council Roars to Life". p. B01. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 

External links[edit]

Council of the District of Columbia
First Ward 1 Member, Council of the District of Columbia
Succeeded by
Frank Smith
Preceded by
Arrington Dixon
Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia
Succeeded by
John A. Wilson
Preceded by
John A. Wilson
Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia
Succeeded by
Linda W. Cropp