Dr. John Henrik Clarke
Dr. John Henrik Clarke understood something essential about American and world history: the African and African-American experiences, and contributions to life and culture were almost completely left out. He dedicated his life to correcting what he argued was the prevailing view that people of Africa and of African descent had no history worthy of study.
His pioneering career as a scholar and historian was grounded here at Hunter College, where he ascended through the academic ranks and was a beloved professor for many decades. In 1969, he was appointed chair of Hunter’s Black and Puerto Rican Studies Department.
At the request of Hunter students, Dr. Clarke developed the College’s first Africana Studies curriculum. Beyond Hunter, throughout academia, he is known and remembered for his singular contributions to higher education. Through his research, teaching, mentoring, and friendship, Dr. Clarke had – and still has – a significant impact on the lives of thousands of Hunter students and alumni.
Although lacking a traditional formal higher education, Dr. Clarke is one of the most important scholars of the African Diaspora. He was among the very first to begin documenting the lives and contributions of African people in both America and around other regions of the globe. During his distinguished career, Dr. Clarke authored numerous articles that have appeared in leading scholarly journals. He also served as the author, contributor, or editor of 24 books.
Dr. John Henrik Clarke Legacy Campaign
Now we must finish his story and enshrine this legend of African-American history at Hunter by becoming the first public institution of higher education to pay tribute to this trailblazing historian.
The Dr. John H. Clarke Commemorative Committee has launched a campaign to honor Dr. Clarke’s legacy by creating a study lounge in his name. With the creation of the John Henrik Clarke Study Lounge, Dr. Clarke's legacy of research, justice, contemplation, and connection will be preserved in a dedicated space. Prominently located in Hunter’s newly renovated Library, the lounge will be a destination for students and faculty seeking a comfortable area for individual and group work, quiet socializing, and restful breaks between classes or to reflect on their relationship to Dr. Clarke's legacy.
Hunter students, who commute to school and spend long days on campus, need this kind of space. Its projected cost is $100,000 – which we have set as our fundraising goal – and we welcome your support.
Dr. Clarke's life became a symbol of qualities we wish to claim, to emulate, and to engender: commitment, self-reliance, communalism, intelligence, scholarly excellence, determination, discipline, conviction, and achievement. A study lounge in a world-class public college library is the perfect space to embody such ideals.