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Faye Williams, the first black woman to study at Harvard



Little Rock, Arkansas – There are several prominent natives in Arkansas whose inventive contributions to industry and education helped pave the way for changes in racial disparity.

In addition to being a well-known entrepreneur, Faye Wilma (Robinson)-Clarke, who was born in Pine Bluff, was the first African American woman to graduate from Harvard Business School.

Clarke attended Hampton Institute in Virginia after receiving the Arkansas National Merit Scholarship during his senior year of high school.

She completed a one-year business program at Radcliffe College after graduating, which was taught by instructors from the Harvard Business School, where women were not yet permitted.

At this point, Clarke joined the program as the first female African American.

Later, she started working for the food industry behemoth ARAMARK, where she was promoted to Regional Vice-President.

According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Clarke assisted in planning services for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California, while working for ARAMARK.

According to the Encyclopedia, Margaret and her husband Frank Clarke frequently traveled around the South due to her work at ARAMARK, where she learned about the numerous structural injustices that lower-income school districts’ students must deal with.

In 1991, when the pair chose to retire, they established the Alabama-Mississippi Education Improvement Project, with Clarke serving as executive director, using the majority of her $300,000 retirement money.

Later, the result of their efforts was the Educate the Children Foundation, which gave books and other supplies to school districts without the resources to buy them on their own.

Records show that in 1999, schools in nine states, Washington DC, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Haiti, and Ghana received more than $20 million worth of books and other supplies.

Along with numerous other accolades and distinctions, President Bill Clinton presented the 1996 President’s Service Award to the Clarks at the White House.

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