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Caroline Clarke

Journalist Caroline V. Clarke was born on Christmas Day, 1964 in New York City. As an infant, she was adopted and then raised in the Bronx, New York. Clarke later discovered that her biological mother was Carole "Cookie" Cole, the daughter of the famous musician Nat King Cole. She received her B.A. degree in English from Smith College, and then earned her M.S. degree with honors in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She also studied at Spelman College from 1983 to 1984.

In 1987, Clarke was hired as a reporter for the North Jersey Herald-News. She then joined the Connecticut Law Tribune in 1988, and became a staff writer for American Lawyer in 1989, where she was a contributing winner of a National Magazine Award for Outstanding Single Topic Issue. Then, in 1993, Black Enterprise magazine hired Clark as a senior editor. In 1998, she helped launch Black Enterprise Books, and served as its editorial director until 2003. During this time, she was promoted to editor-at-large of Black Enterprise magazine, and, in 2009, became Black Enterprise’s general manager of interactive media. In 2010, Clarke was named executive editor of Black Enterprise and became host of Black Enterprise Business Report. She also serves as editorial director of Black Enterprise’s Women of Power Summit, the nation's largest annual conference for African American women executives.

In 2001, Clarke, through Black Enterprise Books, published her first book, Take a Lesson: Today's Black Achievers on How They Made It and What They Learned along the Way. She also authored Postcards from Cookie: A Memoir of Motherhood, Miracles and a Whole Lot of Mail, which was published in 2014.

Clarke has served on the boards of Spence Chapin Family Services and the BE BRIDGE Foundation. She is married and has two children.

Caroline Clarke was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 9, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.250

Sex

Female

Interview Date

09/09/2014

Last Name

Clarke

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Smith College

Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Spelman College

P.S. 121 Throop School

J.H.S. 144 Michelangelo School

Bronx High School of Science

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Caroline

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

CLA20

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

To Thine Own Self Be True

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/25/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Bread with Cheese or Butter

Short Description

Journalist Caroline Clarke (1964 - ) was the executive editor of Black Enterprise and host of the Black Enterprise Business Report. Her books included Take a Lesson and Postcards from Cookie.

Employment

North Jersey Herald-News

Connecticut Law Tribune

American Lawyer

Black Enterprise Magazine

Black Enterprise Books

Black Enterprise

Black Enterprise Business Report

Black Enterprise's Women of Power Summit

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Caroline Clarke's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Caroline Clarke lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Caroline Clarke describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Caroline Clarke describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Caroline Clarke remembers her early experiences in Liberia

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Caroline Clarke describes the sights and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Caroline Clarke recalls her parents' influence on her early education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Caroline Clarke describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Caroline Clarke talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Caroline Clarke talks about her adoption

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Caroline Clarke talks about her birth mother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Caroline Clarke talks about her birth mother's decision to place her for adoption

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Caroline Clarke describes her birth mother's acting career

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Caroline Clarke describes her birth mother's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Caroline Clarke talks about the Palmer Memorial Institute in Sedalia, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Caroline Clarke describes her adoptive parents' emphasis on etiquette

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Caroline Clarke describes her community in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Caroline Clarke talks about her schooling in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Caroline Clarke talks about her biological father

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Caroline Clarke remembers learning that her father was white, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Caroline Clarke remembers learning that her father was white, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Caroline Clarke talks about her racial identity, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Caroline Clarke talks about her racial identity, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Caroline Clarke remembers The Bronx High School of Science in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Caroline Clarke describes her decision to pursue a career in journalism

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Caroline Clarke talks about her decision to attend Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Caroline Clarke describes her experiences at Smith College

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Caroline Clarke talks about her year at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Caroline Clarke describes the start of her career in journalism

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Caroline Clarke remembers meeting her husband, John C. Graves

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Caroline Clarke talks about her marriage to John C. Graves

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Caroline Clarke talks about working for Earl G. Graves, Sr.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Caroline Clarke describes the dress code at Black Enterprise

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Caroline Clarke talks about the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Caroline Clarke remembers the creation of the Women of Power Summit

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Caroline Clarke reflects upon her career

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Caroline Clarke talks about her decision to pursue a career in journalism

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Caroline Clarke reflects upon the state of the journalism industry

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Caroline Clarke talks about journalism in the digital age

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Caroline Clarke reflects upon the state of black media

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Caroline Clarke reflects upon her legacy, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Caroline Clarke reflects upon her legacy, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Caroline Clarke shares a message to future generations

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

2$8

DATitle
Caroline Clarke describes the start of her career in journalism
Caroline Clarke remembers the creation of the Women of Power Summit
Transcript
So, you graduate from Smith [Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts], you go to Columbia [Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, New York, New York] and--$$(Nods head).$$--and when do you start working?$$Right away. I got a job, a recruiter from a New Jersey paper came to Columbia, The North Jersey Herald and News, it was a competitor of The Bergen Record [The Record], although not much of a competitor. I have to say The Bergen Record was by and large the bigger paper. But they came and recruited and so I was recruited out of Columbia. I was not extremely ambitious in my, in my job search coming out of Columbia. I think I was very fearful that I was still very green. I did really well at Columbia. I graduated with honors but I felt because I had not had any experience going into Columbia which a lot of students had really even worked in journalism, I was hyper aware of how much I didn't know and I was not a big risk taker. So, I went to this little paper in North Jersey. I also wasn't really excited about going to you know another market, a small market. I wanted to stay close to New York [New York] and it was a great experience. I learned a lot. It was a daily newspaper. I definitely cut my teeth there and, and again I did well. I, I was lucky I found my calling in journalism. That was clearly what I was meant to do. And, and then after a little over a year there I went to a small trade paper in Stamford, Connecticut called the Connecticut Law Tribune. And my goal in going there was really to get to The American Lawyer, which was the flagship publication of that organization which was--although it was a trade, it was a very, very highly respected trade magazine in New York and it was a feeder for The Wall Street Journal and, and you know a lot of prestigious news organizations. And so, I figured you know I could get there through one of their subsidiary papers and that's what I did. So, I went from the Law Tribune to The American Lawyer magazine in New York.$But they kept asking and they kept asking. And so, ultimately we decided in 2005 to have a women's conference but we said we wouldn't make it about the entrepreneurs in our audience, we would make it about the corporate women. This way you know the entrepreneurs conference would be intact. And women came out in droves. State Farm was a title sponsor, it was in Phoenix [Arizona] and women just really came and it was that same, it was that same you know fire in them and hunger in them and you know there was something emotional that happened there. Women would come up to me and say, "You just don't know you know, I'm in Minnesota so this is like, you know, I feel like I've been dropped into heaven. I don't have this. I don't get this. I need this." And that was repeated you know all over. And we would do this conference and we would all leave there feeling like everything was possible you know. You just like, you be in your little silo throughout the year, you're doing your work, you're trying to raise kids, you've got parents, you've got this, you've got that. You're struggling, you're doing it but you get here and really truly decompress with women who are living the same kind of life, had the same sorts of dreams, wanted the same sorts of things and making it happen. And being together made you feel more strongly that it was doable and that it was worth it and that whatever you were going through or sacrificing to make it happen, it was worthwhile. So, the Women of Power Summit you know came into being and it's evolved and it's now going to be in its tenth year next which is phenomenal and amazing to me. But you know the women of Black Enterprise, the businesswoman, whether she is a small business person who has started her own company or inherited it from parents or started it with her significant other or whether she is you know clawing her way through corporate environments is so vital to this country and this culture and, and she's been really vital part of our audience.