BY TRONE DOWD
Assemblywoman Barbara Clark, representative of the 33rd district and a 30 year staple of the Southeast Queens political scene, died Monday night at the age of 76.
The news was formally announced at the Press of Southeast Queens’ and Queens Tribune’s Black History Event at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Jamaica when U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) shared the news with the audience of constituents and elected officials from all over the borough.
“One of our senior and legendary elected officials in Southeast Queens has passed this morning,” Meeks said. “That is the great Barbara Clark.”
The news was met with loud gasps from the attendees of the event. Meeks asked for a moment of silence in her honor.
New York City Public Advocate Letitia James spoke during the event sharing her thoughts on the influential elect.
“My heart is very heavy this morning,” James said on stage solemnly. “Assemblywoman Clark is a mentor to me. I stand on her shoulders. She taught me a lot in Albany, she protected me in Albany. All those years, as you know, it was a ‘man’s zone.’ Barbara Clarke used to walk into meetings that were filled with nothing but men, and then say ‘what is this all about, you can’t have a meeting without a woman. […] Barbara Clark was not afraid to speak truth to power and to challenge anyone wherever she was.”
As news of Clark’s death made the rounds, politicos and elected officials throughout the borough gave their condolences, sharing their well wishes with family remembering their colleague and, for some, mentor, with great esteem.
“It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of a wonderful public servant, mentor and friend, Assemblywoman Barbara M. Clark,” New York state Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said. “Her industrious style and fierce advocacy will truly be missed in Albany and throughout Southeast Queens. She was always steadfast in her devotion to her family, neighbors, and our community. My prayers go out to the Clark family and to our community whom she served so ably throughout her nearly three decades representing the 33rd Assembly District in the state legislature. Southeast Queens and New York State have lost a true champion, may she rest in peace knowing that she fought the good fight on behalf of all of us.”
“I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Assembly Member Barbara Clark,” Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) said. “She was a guiding light for the new generation of Southeast Queens leaders and a fierce advocate for better education in communities of color. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends.”
“These grays skies have created a very somber background for us in Southeast Queens today, as we remember the life and gift of our Assemblywoman Barbara M. Clark, who passed away last night” said Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans). “For over a quarter century, she served in the Assembly as a staunch advocate for equity in funding for health and education, and as a fighter for the communities she represented with dedication and compassion. I consider Assemblywoman Clark my mentor, my colleague, and my friend, and I am absolutely devastated to learn of her transition. I ask that everyone keep her family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo also shared his condolences.
“Over the course of her nearly 30 year career in the Assembly, Barbara Clark was a true legend of Queens – a proud leader who worked tirelessly to support her community and better the lives of those around her,” Cuomo said. “She was an outspoken advocate on issues affecting schools and working families in her district and across New York, and she will be greatly missed. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I offer my deepest condolences to her family, her friends and to the people she has served.”
U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens/Bronx), chairman of the Queens Democratic Party mourned Clark and noted that they served together in the Assembly.
“We were both elected to the New York State Assembly 30 years ago and it was an honor to serve alongside her and see firsthand her unwavering commitment to the people of Queens,” he said. “She will be remembered as a tireless public servant and will be sorely missed by our entire community.”
“I join my Assembly colleagues today to mourn the passing of one of our most devoted legislators, the Honorable Barbara M. Clark,” Assemblyman David Weprin said. “Serving in the Assembly since 1987, Assemblymember Clark was a dedicated advocate for quality education, public healthcare, and served as one of Queens’ most vocal advocates.
He added,“The passing of Hon. Barbara Clark is a great loss to the Assembly institution, but is also a great loss to me personally. As the Assemblymember seated next to Barbara in the Assembly chamber, I was fortunate to be the recipient of her advice and guidance on a regular basis. Assemblymember Clark’s wisdom, intellect, and passion will surely be missed and my condolences go out to her loved ones, family, and friends.”
“In Assemblymember Clark, we had a champion, a leader, and a compassionate lawmaker,” said Assemblymember Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights). “She distinguished herself through her passion for quality education and her unwavering devotion to her constituents. She was a fighter for the people of New York and a champion of the underserved. Queens has lost a devoted leader and lawmaker. Assemblymember Barbara M. Clark will be truly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with the Clark family.”
The alliance for Quality Education called Clark “a true champion of education.”
“She was one of the earliest supporters of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and never stopped fighting for every child’s constitutional right to a sound basic education,” they recalled. “She was a wonderful woman with a sharp mind and a bright smile that could light up a room. Barbara Clark will be sorely missed by AQE. Her passing is a loss for all New Yorkers.”
Reach Reporter Trone Dowd at 719-357-7400 x123, email@example.com or @theloniusly