Legislator C. Virginia Fields was born on August 6, 1946 in Birmingham, Alabama to Peter Clark and Lucille Clark. Fields earned her B.A. degree in sociology from Knoxville College, located in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1967; and her M.S.W. degree in social work from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana in 1969.
Fields was active in the Civil Rights Movement as a teenager and marched with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Birmingham and spent six days in jail. After graduating from Indiana University, Fields moved to New York in 1970 to pursue a career in social work. She began her political career in 1981, when she was elected as chair of the Community Board 10 in New York City. Fields held that position until 1983. Fields was first elected to the New York City Council in 1989 as a representative of the 5th District. She was then re-elected to the New York City Council in 1993 as a representative of the 9th District. Fields served two terms as the president of the Manhattan Borough and was only the second African American woman to hold that position. She was also the highest ranking African American elected official at the time. Fields remained as president of the Manhattan Borough until her term ended in 2005. After her term as president ended, Fields became the first African American woman to run for mayor of New York City in 2006, although she lost in the Democratic Primary.
In addition to her political career, Fields was also active in her community. In 2008, she was appointed as president and chief executive officer of The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. Fields also served on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Region II Health Equity Council after being appointed by Governor David A. Paterson in 2011. In 2014, she was appointed by Governor Anthony Cuomo to the New York State’s Ending the AIDS Epidemic Task Force. She has also served on the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, Policy Committee and Public Justice Project Steering Committee. Additionally, Fields is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the Links Incorporated and Abyssinian Baptist Church.
C. Virginia Fields was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 11, 2017.