C. Virginia Fields
|Clara Virginia Fields|
C. Virginia Fields in 2015
|25th Borough President of Manhattan|
January 1, 1998 – December 31, 2005
|Preceded by||Ruth Messinger|
|Succeeded by||Scott M. Stringer|
|Born||August 6, 1945 (age 73)|
|Spouse(s)||Henry Fields (1971–1985; divorced)|
|Alma mater||Knoxville College (1967)|
Indiana University (1969)
Early life and education
Clara Virginia Clark was born in Birmingham, Alabama. She received a B.A. in sociology from Knoxville College in Tennessee in 1967 and an M.S.W. from Indiana University Bloomington in 1969. She married Henry Fields in 1971; they divorced in 1985.
In 1971, she moved to New York City and became a social worker. In the late 1970s and 1980s she worked in a variety of administrative positions in the social services field, while also becoming involved in community politics.
Fields is well known for her activism during the height of the civil rights movement in which she participated in a number of protests and marches, thus beginning her foray into social and political advocacy.
In 1989, Fields was elected to the New York City Council. In 1997, Fields was elected Manhattan Borough President, replacing Ruth Messinger who ran for Mayor, unsuccessfully, against Rudy Giuliani. Fields received acclaim for her support of cultural organizations such as the New York Shakespeare Festival and the West Side Arts Coalition. She was in office during the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Some community groups throughout Manhattan, however, have a low opinion of Ms. Fields' record. They argue that she would not listen to community concerns regarding the noisy nightclubs and promoted outsized and ill-advised development projects. In 1999, Fields supported using eminent domain to seize a family-owned manufacturing plant in Harlem to be replaced by a Costco store.
In 2005, Fields was a Democratic candidate for mayor of New York City. In early polls, she placed second to Fernando Ferrer. She suffered criticism for her campaign's perceived lack of policy-based motivation, with some critics pointing to the term limits of her position at the time as the real impetus for her campaign. A small scandal emerged when it was discovered that her campaign literature included photographs doctored to create the impression of diversity in support. Fields never found traction and in the primary she finished third with 15.92% of the vote. Fields finished behind former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer and Congressman Anthony Weiner, but ahead of City Council Speaker Gifford Miller.
In March 2006 it was reported that Fields would run for the State Senate seat representing Harlem and parts of Upper Manhattan, being vacated by Senate Minority Leader David Paterson. Paterson decided not to seek reelection to the Senate seat in order to run for lieutenant governor on a ticket with State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. On June 1, 2006, Fields announced that she was ending her Senate campaign, explaining that now was not the right time for her to run.
Fields has been the President and CEO of the non-profit organization, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLC), since 2008.
- Mechling, Lauren (May 16, 2005). "With C. Virginia Fields, 'Nice' is But Part of the Story". New York Sun.
- Archibold, Randal C. (August 23, 2005). "Bringing Faith and Conciliation To a Mayoral Bid in New York". The New York Times. Retrieved March 1, 2011.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-12-31. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- "President & CEO". National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
| New York City Council, 5th District
| New York City Council, 9th District
| Borough President of Manhattan