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Dr. John Clark, Jr.

Dr. John F. J. Clark, Jr. was born in West Virginia on December 8, 1922. After attending Charleston public schools, he enrolled in West Virginia State College in 1939, but left for Ohio State University in 1941 and earned his A.B. degree in 1943. Clark then entered Howard University School of Medicine, earning his M.D. degree in 1946. He continued his training at Howard University Hospital as a resident in obstetrics and gynecology, finishing in 1951.

Upon the completion of his residency, Clark began working at Howard as a clinical assistant, and by 1955, he was an instructor in obstetrics and gynecology. A year later, he was named assistant professor, and in 1957, he began consulting at the District of Columbia Hospital, as well. That same year, he became chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a position he retained until 1976. Clark was named a full professor in 1964, and continued consulting at area hospitals, including Norfolk Community and Sibley Memorial. In 1972, Clark wrote “The Weekly Health Column,” which was distributed to thirty-five African American newspapers across the country on the health concerns of women and children. Clark worked at Howard University until 1996 as a professor, and remained there as a consultant until his death.

Active in a variety of other areas, both civic and professional, Clark served as a consultant to the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Defense and the Medical Society of the District of Columbia. He also headed up a March of Dimes campaign and was an activist in the integration of hospitals.

Clark held the distinction of training more qualified black physicians in obstetrics and gynecology than anyone in the world and was honored numerous times. In 1978, both the College of Medicine and the Hospital (Howard University) honored him with the Kaiser-Permanente Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the National Medical Association presented him with an award for being a Distinguished Physician, Teacher and Scholar. The Howard University College of Medicine endowed the John F.J. Clark, M.D. Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology on his behalf in 1994, and President Bill Clinton praised him for the work he did through the generations.

Clark passed away on September 8, 2008 at the age of 85.

Accession Number




Interview Date


Last Name


Marital Status


Middle Name

F. J.


West Virginia State University

Howard University College of Medicine

First Name


Birth City, State, Country




Favorite Season

Football Season, Fall




West Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination


Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date


Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City




Favorite Food

Cookies (Chocolate)

Death Date


Short Description

Medical professor and obstetrician Dr. John Clark, Jr. (1922 - 2008 ) taught for fifty years at Howard University College of Medicine, which endowed the John F. J. Clark, M.D. Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology on his behalf in 1994. Clark held the distinction of training more qualified black physicians in obstetrics and gynecology than anyone in the world.


Howard University Hospital

District of Columbia Hospital

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color


Timing Pairs

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of John Clark interview</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - John Clark's favorites</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John Clark shares details about his family's history</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John Clark talks about his grandparents</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John Clark talks about his mother and sisters</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John Clark talks about notable West Virginians</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John Clark reflects on his father</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John Clark discusses the educational background of his family</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John Clark reflects on his childhood</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - John Clark discusses his education and decision to become an obstetrician/gynecologist</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John Clark shares stories about college and medical school</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John Clark recalls serving as the head of DC General Hospital's OB/GYN department</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John Clark discusses realtionship between health status in the black community and the number of black physicians</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John Clark reflects on his legacy and accomplishments in the field of medicine</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John Clark discusses problems and challenges facing the black community</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - John Clark shares his concerns about the prison system and obesity</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - John Clark talks about medical experimentation, hysterectomies, and the treatment of over-weight patients</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - John Clark talks about his recent book and how he would like to be remembered</a>







John Clark reflects on his father
John Clark shares stories about college and medical school
Tell us about your father [John F.J. Clark Sr.] now. What was he like and what did he do? Tell us about his schooling. You've mentioned it a couple times. But just tell us the whole story.$$Well Dad's first wife died and he didn't marry again, 'til sixteen years later. Now he was forty-four when I was born. And he was not a man throwing the football and so on and basketball.$$Now how did he and your mother meet?$$Well, she was teaching. School teaching. Yeah. And--.$$Was she teaching in his school?$$She was at the same elementary school. She was (unclear). In fact, he spent more time with us academically. He loved to do math. And we loved the math. And he went to give examples and so on. Was in charge of the summer school. Occasionally he didn't have enough people, he'd make us go to summer school . Not because it was needed it, 'cause education wise. So that's whether we--I didn't learn--well as far as sports, he was not out there throwing the ball with me. Yeah. I wanted to play football so bad. But during our education, I started skipping grades. And I was thirteen in the tenth grade. I weighed 108 pounds. I was sixteen when I graduated and I weighed a 126 pounds.$When I was on the track team, I would occa--we would occasionally go to--I went to Indiana. And we stopped in Indianapolis overnight. I could not eat with the team. Bill Willis threw the shotput. And he said, "Well we'll fix the coach." He'd ordered 50 eggs. I ordered so many eggs. And went to Bloomington. Sat down to the table in Bloomington. He said, "Well since you boys like eggs so well I'm bring--buy you some more eggs." Willis told him, "Coach, if you don't order me two steaks, you're gonna hit the floor." And (laughing) that's why I remembered Bill so. The same thing when we went to Ann Arbor [Michigan]. I stayed in a hotel named Roosevelt. We couldn't eat with the team.$$Not even in Ann Arbor, Michigan. All the way up in --.$$We stayed in Detroit and took the bus.$$Mm-hm.$$I remember all these hotels. One was named Lincoln in Indianapolis. Another one was Roosevelt in Detroit [Michigan].$$Now wait a minute. You couldn't stay in the Lincoln hotel?$$No, I stayed in Lincoln. I couldn't eat in the dining room.$$Okay.$$And I know what to do. And see we stayed over night in Indianapolis. The bus in Bloomington. In Bloomington we couldn't eat with the team. We couldn't eat with the team in Indianapolis. Couldn't eat with the team in Detroit--Roosevelt.$$Probably [West] Lafayette [Indiana] either, I guess. Yeah.$$Yeah.$$And pretty much--.$$Well only 'cause I wanted (unclear). I was only on the indoor track team. Michigan State I don't remember. But I wasn't impressed with those things. Well anyway I'm glad I came to Howard [University]. I thought Washington [D.C.] would be a--I was always bashful (laughing). child. I didn't know how I would survive this big city and so forth. But having a sister was the best thing that happened there. Like a design to come to Howard. In fact, (unclear) when I came to medical school, I was elected president of my class in medicine here. And I was all four academic years president of the class. But one school calendar was a war zone. See '43 and '46 [1943-1946] (unclear). And I was very vocal (laughing). Changing the curriculum and doing certain things. It was an enjoyable time for me.$$Okay. Was it--it was never a tough time when you (unclear)?$$(simultaneously) Not academically.$$Okay.$$Yeah. Actually--Well I say a few things in life not important. It is a fact. Two P's, either political or propaganda. And actually when I applied for a resident--well an intern, you only have a few choices. Freedman's Hospital [Washington D.C.] when I graduated, Harlem Hospital [New York, New York]or (unclear).$$Homer [G.] Philips [Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri]?$$Yeah, Homer Philips. All those are small little hospitals. So I wanted to do OB/Gyn [obstetrics/gynecology]. And I stayed at Freedman's. I accepted Harlem and so on. Harlem was a very prejudiced. You interned at Harlem, but very few people at that time got to do a residency in OB. Italians and Jewish people were very strong and they were graduates. And when I applied at Howard for a residency in OB/ Gyn, Dr. Ross thought I was too radical. I talked too much. I asked too many questions and he gave several sermons. He gave me about--a sermon about Peter (laughs) and what Paul--What was the Lord had changed the name?$$Oh Peter. Yeah he was--$$Yeah.$$No. No, Paul.$$Yeah.$$He changed his name from Saul to Paul.$$(unclear) Gave me that lecture. He said, "Clark you need to--." See I would ask questions. 'Cause I'm raising questions. "What are you doing? Or why are you doing this?" He was always being the (unclear). And he gave me a lecture about Peter. "You need a real change." And he asked me, "Where'd you go to school?" I'd say, "Ohio State." "Well I'm glad you didn't go to Lincoln. Cause you never see a freshman talking to a sophomore. And I said, "Well I'm glad I didn't go to Lincoln too." (laughs). That didn't help it.