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Richard X. Clark

Civil rights activist and author Richard X. Clark was born on July 29, 1946 in New York City. He was raised in foster homes in the New York neighborhoods of Jamaica, Queens, and the Bronx. Clark graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School and enlisted in the United States Navy, where he served until 1968.

In 1969, Clark was arrested on charges of attempted robbery and was sentenced to four years in prison. From 1969 to 1972, he served time at multiple state prisons including Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Elmira Correctional Facility, Auburn Correctional Facility, Wallkill Correctional Facility, and the Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York. Appalled by prison conditions at Attica, Clark became a Muslim minister and became active in black Muslim political groups. In September of 1971, he was one of the leaders of the Attica Prison riot, which took the lives of forty-three men. During the riot, Clark was head of the inmates’ internal security and served as a liaison between the inmates of D-yard and the authorities.

After his release in 1972, Clark moved to Greensboro, North Carolina and authored the book, The Brothers of Attica, which was published in 1973. Twenty years later, Clark relocated to New York City and became a case manager for Phase Piggy Bank, a Harlem-based organization that provides drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Clark passed away on September 4, 2015 at the age of 69.

Accession Number

A2014.182

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/12/2014

Last Name

Clark

Maker Category
Middle Name

X.

Organizations
Schools

DeWitt Clinton High School

P.S. 50 Talfourd Lawn Elementary School

First Name

Richard

Birth City, State, Country

Manhattan

HM ID

CLA19

Favorite Season

Winter

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Brazil

Favorite Quote

I'll Never Quit.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Interview Description
Birth Date

7/29/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Hunsterville

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Meat Loaf, Fried Chicken

Death Date

9/4/2015

Short Description

Civil rights activist and author Richard X. Clark (1946 - 2015 ) was one of the inmate leaders of the 1971 Attica Prison riot. He was also the author of The Brothers of Attica.

Employment

United States Navy

Phase Piggy Bank

Greensboro Drug Action Council

Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime

Favorite Color

Blue, Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Richard X. Clark's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark describes how he was placed in foster care

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark talks about his biological father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark recalls his first foster family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark talks about his experiences of abuse in foster case

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Richard X. Clark describes his experiences at P.S. 50 in Queens, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Richard X. Clark describes his early experiences with religion

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Richard X. Clark recalls his first encounters with the Nation of Islam

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Richard X. Clark remembers running away from his foster home

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Richard X. Clark recalls moving to a new foster home in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Richard X. Clark talks about his relationship with his foster family in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark describes his personality as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark remembers his experiences in the Fruit of Islam

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark talks about his enlistment in the U.S. Navy Reserves

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark describes Malcolm X's expulsion from the Nation of Islam

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark remembers dating and impregnating two women

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Richard X. Clark describes his marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Richard X. Clark describes his release from the U.S. Navy

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark talks about his arrest for armed robbery

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark talks about the Nation of Islam's stance on race

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark describes the advantages of being Muslim in the American prison system

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark describes his experiences at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark recalls his experiences in New York State correctional facilities

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Richard X. Clark talks about the rise of the black consciousness movement

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Richard X. Clark describes the conditions at Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark recalls his experiences with discrimination at Attica Correctional Facility

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark remembers the inmates at Attica Correctional Facility

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark describes the events leading to the 1971 Attica prison riot

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark remembers the commissary conditions at Attica Correctional Facility

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark recalls the start of the 1971 Attica prison riot

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Richard X. Clark describes the riot at Attica Correctional Facility, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Richard X. Clark describes the riot at Attica Correctional Facility, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Richard X. Clark recalls the formation of the inmate negotiating committee

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark describes how he became the inmate liaison during the 1971 Attica prison riot

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark talks about the inmates and guards at the Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark describes the timeline of the first day of the 1971 Attica prison riot

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark recalls the last days of the 1971 Attica prison riot, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark recalls the last days of the 1971 Attica prison riot, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Richard X. Clark remembers those who were killed during the uprising at Attica Correctional Facility

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Richard X. Clark remembers his release and the death of his wife

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Richard X. Clark talks about his indictment and subsequent settlement

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Richard X. Clark talks about his children

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Richard X. Clark talks about Phase Piggy Back, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Richard X. Clark reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Richard X. Clark describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Richard X. Clark describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
Richard X. Clark recalls the start of the 1971 Attica prison riot
Richard X. Clark recalls the last days of the 1971 Attica prison riot, pt. 1
Transcript
Now, let me ju- let's, let's go to September the 8th, 1971.$$Um-hm.$$I think you opened your book ['The Brothers of Attica,' Richard X. Clark] with a football game, right?$$Um-hm.$$Brothers are playing football [at Attica Correctional Facility, Attica, New York].$$Okay, Raymond Lamorie and Dewer [Leroy Dewer]. Raymond was a white guy, a white inmate, and Dewer was a black inmate. This is like September the 8th, and we in the yard, A block, and they're throwing the football to one another. I'm standing against the wall, having a meeting, and I'm watching 'em throw the football, one, nothing. And I'm talking to the other brothers. There's like myself, maybe four of us, four or five of us. Anyway, guard comes to the yard door and yells at Raymond and Leroy, "Yo, y'all need to stop that." "We ain't doing nothing." "I told you, you need to stop it."$$What was wrong?$$They congregating. They're throwing the football at one another. They're playing. They're co- whatever.$$Well, don't they have the football there so that--$$Um-hm.$$--they can throw it?$$Yeah, but he's white (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh.$$--and he's black.$$So they can't, okay.$$(Shakes head) That's a no-no, yeah. You can congregate with two inmates, but you got to be of the same color, all right. So he's white, one's black. Guard tells 'em to stop. They don't stop, okay. Guard comes in the yard, and he gonna take them bodily out the yard. All the brothers in the yard, white and black, Puerto Rican, surround the guard, say, "You ain't taking 'em out of here." That started it. Okay. Didn't ignite it then, that we know. But they didn't take 'em out the yard. They closed the yard, meant for us to lock in, end of the day. We locked in, we locked in the cells maybe ten, fifteen minutes. We hear the goon squad coming down the tier, and they go to these two brothers' cell, drag 'em out the cell and take 'em up to HBZ [housing block Z]. We are livid, but we're in our cells individually locked up. Next morning, they let us out for breakfast. Now, 9 Company, which is the company I'm on, is the last company to eat breakfast, because we're on the grading gang, and we don't have jobs. So we're the last--excuse me, we're the last company to go to chow. They let everybody out their cell. We're on the tier, one tier--one flight up. They let everybody out the cell. You line up on the sides, and you march down the tier, down the steps into the hallway to go to the chow line. We do this. It's the same day that we're giving commemoration and memorial to George Jackson in California.$$Now, George Jackson had just been killed in California, right at--$$Um-hm. So everybody, what we do, black armband. If you don't have a black armband, silence. March to the mess hall, down the hall to the mess hall, go in the mess hall. Everybody sits there, don't eat.$$Yeah, he was killed in Soledad Prison [sic. San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, California].$$Um-hm.$$George Jackson (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Soledad. They said he had a gun in his Afro (laughter).$$And there was no such thing.$$Unh-uh, no such, no such, yeah. But the brother was involved with [HistoryMaker] Angela Davis at that time, you know, so. Anyway, so we're silent, you know. Usually, procedure is you go in the mess hall, you pick up a spoon. You go sit at a table, you know, go to the line, get your chow, sit at a table, eat and get up, put your spoon back in there and go. We sit down, nobody's making a sound. Okay, I think we got like ten, fifteen minutes to eat. They knock on the, on the wall, us get up, return our spoons. We did this quietly, and we're walking through, back through the hallways.$So we started with the democratic process of trying to get them to implement, you know, different demands as far as enhance- well, not enhancing, but changing the conditions of the institution [Attica Correctional Facility, Attica, New York]. I didn't know at that particular time, but Russell Oswald was saying that, you know, all he could do was so much. We had to take our grievances to the governor who was Nelson D. Rockefeller [Nelson Rockefeller].$$Right, who had just been candidate for president in '68 [1968].$$Um-hm, um-hm.$$Lost the nomination to Richard Nixon [Richard Milhous Nixon].$$Yep, yep. So, we said, all right, you know. We understood what he was saying as far as the only one that could really do anything about the situation was, was the governor. Our worry was that, again, which is our constant worry, was our lives. And we knew that the National Guards, state troopers and regular corrections officers, their intent was to annihilate us, to come in and level the yard and put the whole matter to rest. Rockefeller was a sneaky guy, sneaky guy because we didn't know it at the time, but what they did with the observers, is the observers left the yard. Now, this is like 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, we're think- we, we, the inmates, think that we're still in a negotiation process. The observers who have been sequestered away into another part of the institution think negotiation process is still going on. They think they're waiting the same way that we think we're waiting for Rockefeller. Unbeknownst to both parties, they lock them up and September the 13th, it's a rainy morning or it was a rainy night. September the 12th, it rained all night. That next morning, September the 13th, I didn't have any sleep. It's about, maybe six o'clock in the morning, the sun is just coming up. It's raining. It's a dismal morning. It's kind of cold. All of a sudden, I hear this roar. I know what it is, 'cause I been in the [U.S.] military. It's a helicopter. And we're sitting down. We got--I think I had just had a cup of coffee. Anyway, I'm squatting down. I hear the roar. I stand straight up, and I'm looking at the top of the wall, and I see the helicopter reach the apex of the wall. Suddenly, I hear all this gunfire (makes sounds). And I'm looking around in the yard, and I'm seeing brothers being hit. I'm seeing, being hit in the head, being hit in the chess, arms, legs, hit all over. I'm wondering why I'm not being hit. I know I'm gonna die, you know, God as my witness, I know I'm a die.$$So they're firing on everybody in the courtyard?$$Indiscriminately, they're just firing down there. But they're telling you--$$The prison employees are there too, right? The guards and the--$$The, the hostages, everybody, and they're just firing away. Simultaneously, with them firing, I don't know it at the time, but they're running down--they're busting in. They're running down the catwalk, shotguns, blasting away. Still the hostages is in there. This is where some of the hostages get killed. They're yelling indiscriminate, "Put your hands on your head, you will not be harmed. Walk to the nearest exit." They're telling you this, but they're still firing in the yard, all right. I'm wondering why I haven't been hit. I put my hands on my head. I walk to the nearest exit. I get to the exit, gotta walk up three steps. You hit the hallway, the corridor, then they, they usher you down three steps, hit you in the knees, in the back, strip all your clothes off you, glasses, watch, everything, throw you in the mud. Okay, this is actually what saved my life, threw me in the mud, then took my glasses, couldn't recognize me, all right. Then I'm in the mud. I must have been in that mud three, four hours, all right.$$So naked in the mud--$$Um-hm.$$--for three or four hours.$$Naked, butt naked in the mud, three or four hours, cold. In that three--during that three or four hours, I see them running around the yard, you know, picking up guys, take 'em out the yard, you know, dragging 'em out, whole nine yards. I don't know that they looking for me at that particular time.