Mark Clark (activist)

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Mark Clark
Born (1947-06-28)June 28, 1947
Peoria, Illinois, U.S.
Died December 4, 1969(1969-12-04) (aged 22)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Citizenship United States
Alma mater Manual High School
Illinois Central College
Occupation Activist
Years active 1966–69
Political party Black Panther Party

Mark Clark (June 28, 1947 – December 4, 1969) was an American activist and member of the Black Panther Party. He was killed with Fred Hampton during a Chicago police predawn raid on December 4, 1969.


Clark was born on June 28, 1947, in Peoria, Illinois, to Elder William Clark and Fannie Bardley Clark. He became active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) at an early age and joined in demonstrating against discrimination in employment, housing, and education.[1] According to John Gwynn, former President of state and local chapters of the NAACP, Clark and his brothers played a role in helping keep other teenagers in line. "He could call for order when older persons or adults could not," Gwynn said of Clark in a December 1969 interview with the Chicago Tribune.[2] In that same Chicago Tribune article, family members are quoted as saying Clark enjoyed reading and art, and was good at drawing portraits. He attended Manual High School and Illinois Central College in Peoria.[2]

The Black Panther Party[edit]

After reading their literature and the Ten Point Program, Clark joined the Black Panther Party and later decided to organize a local Peoria chapter. He went from church to church in an effort to find a building to house a free breakfast program. He was eventually successful when Pastor Blaine Ramsey agreed to allow a free breakfast program. Church members later voted against continuing the breakfast program because of concerns of government monitoring of the Black Panther Party.


Some family members and friends say Mark Clark knew he would be murdered in Chicago.[2] In the predawn hours of December 4, 1969, Chicago Police stormed into the apartment of BPP State Chairman Fred Hampton at 2337 West Monroe Street, killing both Mark Clark (age 22[3]) and Fred Hampton (age 21[3]), and causing serious bodily harm to Verlina Brewer, Ronald "Doc" Satchel, Blair Anderson, and Brenda Harris.

Hampton and Deborah Johnson, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with their child, were sleeping in the south bedroom. Satchel, Anderson, and Brewer were asleep in the north bedroom. Harris and Louis Truelock were sleeping on a bed by the south wall of the living room, and Harold Bell slept on a mattress on the floor in the middle of the room. Clark, sitting in the front room of the apartment with a shotgun in his lap, was on security duty.[4]

The first shot hit Clark in the heart. He died instantly, and his gun went off as he fell, according to Harris, who watched from the bed in the corner.[4]

The single round was later determined to be caused by a reflexive death convulsion after the raiding team shot him. This was the only shot the Panthers fired.[5][6] A federal grand jury determined that the police fired between 82 and 99 shots, including into bedrooms, while most of the occupants lay sleeping.[4]

Weather Underground reaction[edit]

In response to the murders of Black Panther members Fred Hampton and Mark Clark during the December 1969 police raid, on May 21, 1970, the Weather Underground issued a "Declaration of War" against the United States government, using for the first time its new name, the "Weather Underground Organization" (WUO), adopting fake identities, and pursuing covert activities only. These initially included preparations for a bombing of a U.S. military non-commissioned officers' dance at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in what Brian Flanagan said had been intended to be "the most horrific hit the United States government had ever suffered on its territory".[7]

We've known that our job is to lead white kids into armed revolution. We never intended to spend the next five to twenty-five years of our lives in jail. Ever since SDS became revolutionary, we've been trying to show how it is possible to overcome frustration and impotence that comes from trying to reform this system. Kids know the lines are drawn: revolution is touching all of our lives. Tens of thousands have learned that protest and marches don't do it. Revolutionary violence is the only way.

Although two months earlier, Hampton had criticized the predominantly white Weather Underground (also known as the Weathermen) for being "adventuristic, masochistic and Custeristic",[9] Bernardine Dohrn of the Weathermen, which had a close relationship with the Black Panthers in Chicago at the time of Hampton's assassination, said in the documentary The Weather Underground (2002) that the killing of Fred Hampton caused them to "be more grave, more serious, more determined to raise the stakes, and not just be the white people who wrung their hands when black people were being murdered."[10]


  1. ^ Clark, Kay. "Who Was Mark Clark?". Mark Clark Legacy website. Mark Clark Legacy Org. Retrieved 2005-11-16. 
  2. ^ a b c Boyce, Joseph (December 29, 1969). "Panther Clark Expected Death, Sister Reveals". Chicago Tribune. ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 - 1985) (1963–Current file): 12. Retrieved 2005-11-01. 
  3. ^ a b "The Black Panther Raid and the death of Fred Hampton". Chicago Tribune. December 4, 1969. 
  4. ^ a b c "Hampton v. City Of Chicago, et al.". IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS. January 4, 1978. Retrieved 2007-07-19. 
  5. ^ Dan Berger (2009). The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther. Chicago Review Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-55652-765-4. 
  6. ^ Berger, Dan (2006) Outlaws of America: the Weather Underground and the politics of solidarity, AK Press, ISBN 978-1-904859-41-3, pp.132-133
  7. ^ Democracy Now! |Ex-Weather Underground Member Kathy Boudin Granted Parole
  8. ^ Weather Underground Declaration of a State of War
  9. ^ "The Seeds of Terror". The New York Times. November 22, 1981. p. 4. 
  10. ^ Bernardine Dohrn (2002). The Weather Underground (mp4). Event occurs at 0:34:00. Retrieved March 2, 2012. 

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