Rep. Alyce Clarke, Mississippi

First Black Woman Elected To Mississippi Legislature To Have Portrait In State Capitol

Rep. Alyce Clarke, the first Black Woman State Representative in Mississippi, now has her portrait displayed in the state Capitol.

The first Black woman to be elected to the Mississippi Legislature, former Rep. Alyce Clarke, will be formally celebrated by the state. A portrait of Clarke will be featured in the halls of Mississippi’s Capitol building. A ceremony was held Feb. 13 to unveil the artwork.

During the ceremony, friends and local politicians came to honor Clarke as her oil painting was placed in the House Education committee meeting room, WLBT reports.

“Thank God, I’ve had more good days than I’ve had bad days,” Clarke, 84, told those in attendance. “And I’d just like to thank everybody who’s here. I’d like to help everybody who’s helped me to get here because I did nothing by myself.”

Clarke, a state representative for the Democratic Party in Mississippi for 39 years, was first elected on behalf of the 69th district in 1984. She declined to run for re-election in 2023.

During her time in office, she worked on improving and establishing education and nutrition programs for the state’s families and children, including the Born Free drug and alcohol treatment program for pregnant women. Clarke helped launch the state’s drug courts and treatment programs to help keep those suffering from drug addiction out of jail.

A generation of political advocates was inspired by her work. Rep. Robert Johnson of Natchez spoke of her insistence that HBCUs, such as her alma mater Alcorn State University, were always considered for vital funding.

“I opened the door and came out, and who is standing outside the door? Ms. Clarke,” Johnson said. “I’m going to tell you: The city of Jackson, the drug courts, the lottery, and Alcorn State University—nobody had a better champion than Alyce Clarke.”

Her portrait will be among the white male lawmakers in the Capitol, making her a prominent figure in the state’s legislative history for improving the lives of those most vulnerable in Mississippi.