Mark Clark was born June 28, 1947, in Peoria, Illinois. He was one of the 17 children of William Elder Clark, a well known Pentecostal minister, and Fannie Bardley Clark. By his teenage years, Clark was actively working with the Peoria branch of the NAACP, leading and participating in demonstrations for housing, fair pay and employment practices, and quality education for the local black population. His family took note of his dedication to his work, his education and his art, in addition to his quiet, gentle nature. Clark was a graduate of Manual High School in Peoria, and later attended Illinois Central College.
Eventually, working with the NAACP began to take its toll on Clark. He was dedicated to real revolutionary change, not reforms that could be taken away or watered down by virtue of them being agreed to with the oppressor. To this end, Clark began studying the literature and ten-point program of the Black Panther Party. The BPP demanded land, freedom, bread, freedom for all black prisoners, exemption of black men from the draft, and control of the black community by those who live within it, as opposed to control coming from the outside. He wholeheartedly agreed, joined the Black Panther Party, and organized a Peoria chapter. He visited several churches to drum up support for a free breakfast program for community residents, a program that was the hallmark of several Panther chapters across the country. He eventually got space, and the program continued until it was expelled from the church over congregants’ concern over police harassment and monitoring of the Black Panther Party.
In 1969, the 22-year-old Clark went to Chicago to attend strategy sessions and meetings with Party leaders from around the state. He lodged with Fred Hampton and other associates at his apartment on 2337 West Monroe Street on the city’s West Side. On the morning of December 4, he was shot in the heart by Chicago Police assassins. The corrupt law enforcements officers raided the house with information and plans submitted by an informer, who happened to be Fred Hampton’s bodyguard, an individual named O’Neal. He died as he slept with his shotgun across his lap. The brief life of Mark Clark is an example of a genuinely revolutionary individual who modern-day revolutionaries should take concrete examples from in regards to the fight for liberation: serve the people, die for the people, and actively fight against all reaction and oppression to the finish.