"I knew Dave Clarke... I remember the great outpouring of love and respect and affection for him that enveloped the church at his memorial service when he was taken, too young, from us all. Dave was a true giant in the history of this city... No one, before or since, has ever bridged the racial divide in Washington with as much confidence and hope as did Dave. He genuinely cared for the poor and the powerless, and dedicated his life in service to this community. It is fitting and proper that the one law school in Washington which defines as its mission the training of lawyers who also will serve this community, will be named in honor of David A. Clarke."
- Myles V. Lynk
Partner, Dewey Ballantine, LLP
Past President, District of Columbia Bar
On Tuesday, November 16th, 1999, before a cross section of over 500 District of Columbia residents, the University and School of Law celebrated the naming of the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law. The new School of Law name celebrates the life and work of Dave Clarke: friend, colleague, former law professor, and battler for civil rights who died at the age of 53 in 1997. A portrait of "Dave" was presented to his widow, Carole Clarke, and son, Jeffrey Clarke, by School of Law alumni.
Dave Clarke was a central figure in the District's civil rights movement and became a life-long advocate for the rights of the disenfranchised and working people. Initially elected to represent the District's most multi-cultural district Ward One -- he was later elected to represent all District citizens At Large and then as Council Chair. After an unsuccessful run for Mayor, Clarke co-founded and co-directed the Legislation Clinic at the School of Law until he again ran for and was elected Council Chairperson. After that, he continued his teaching duties on a pro bono basis.
As Chair of the D.C. Council, Clarke championed the creation of the District's public law school and its unique program of mandatory clinical service on the part of all law students. In 1986, faced with the loss of critical legal services provided by the closing of the District-based Antioch School of Law, he seized the opportunity to transform that program into a public one, and battled annually for years to ensure full funding.
In addition to his work on the School of Law, among many other causes, Clarke was a renowned and effective rent control advocate. He was also the principal author of and driving force behind the District's landmark Assault Weapons Strict Liability legislation that helped inspire the federal ban on private ownership of such weapons and foreshadowed the current national movement to impose civil liability on gun manufacturers.