Churchman + Activist + Journalist + Diplomat

Stephen Frese and the prize winning essay
"From Emancipation to Equality:
Alexander Clark's Stand for Civil Rights in Iowa."
CLICK HERE to read it online.

CLICK HERE for Sept. 10, 2006, event program.
Stephen Frese in Muscatine PHOTOS

Alexander Clark [Sr.] was a loving father who thought his twelve-year-old daughter should attend the neighborhood school in Muscatine. The school board didn't think so. It said it had a special school for children like her - a separate school for "colored" children. This was in 1868, and Mr. Clark sued on behalf of his daughter. The Supreme Court said of course Susan Clark could go to the neighborhood school, whether we are African, German, Irish, French, or English, it said, we are "one harmonious people" and we all should be treated alike. He took risks. He wrought change. We were then, and we are today "one harmonious people."

Iowa Gov. Thomas J. Vilsack
2003 Inaugural Address


September 2006
Alexander Clark's fight for civil rights takes center stage again, more than 100 years after he first began his battle

Stephen Frese didn't hesitate when asked what part of his research on Muscatine civil rights pioneer Alexander G. Clark was his most memorable.

"It was when I was holding the original petition for suffrage brought by Muscatine's black residents to the Iowa General Assembly," said the Marshalltown High School senior.

Frese's research, much of it done in Muscatine, led him to produce a research paper titled "From Emancipation to Equality: Alexander Clark's Stand for Civil Rights in Iowa."

Sunday evening at the Muscatine Community School District Administration Building, he read his paper, which was named the grand prize winner in the 2006 National History Day Contest. CLICK FOR MORE...

June 2006
A slice of Muscatine history served up on the national stage: Teen wins prize at national competition with research project on Alexander Clark

COLLEGE PARK, MD ­ Stephen Frese of Marshalltown High School won the grand prize at the weeklong National History Day competition that wound up June 15. Frese won a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, valued at more than $100,000. CLICK FOR MORE...

May 2006
Teen traces the trail of a local trailblazer: Student's paper on Alexander Clark earns state and national honors

Stephen Frese, a 17-year-old junior at Marshalltown High School [...] notched his latest achievement May 1 at the State History Day competition. He won with a history paper titled "From Emancipation to Equality: Alexander Clark's Stand for Civil Rights in Iowa." CLICK FOR MORE...

April 2006
Art leaders discuss ideas to celebrate well-known resident

Aside from Alexander Clark's preserved home, there are few monuments to the civil rights leader in Muscatine. Muscatine Art Center director Barb Longtin thinks it might be time to change that. CLICK FOR MORE...

February 2006
Black history pioneer: Alexander Clark became prominent achiever while residing in Muscatine

In 1868, Clark sued the Muscatine Board of Education on behalf of his 12-year-old daughter Susan, who had been turned away from a public school. The case went before the Iowa Supreme Court and resulted in a decision that prohibited discrimination in education in Iowa's public schools. CLICK FOR MORE...

February 2006
Muscatine was Underground Railroad stop

Muscatine and Cedar counties are documented in several sources as being among the stops along the Underground Railroad. CLICK FOR MORE...

February 2006
Clark won prominence, respect as civil rights leader

One of the most influential men of his time, Clark arguably did more for civil rights than anyone else in 19th century Iowa. CLICK FOR MORE...


September 2006 (Daniel G. Clark)
Long overdue attention for Muscatine's equal-rights pioneer

Iowa and the nation are discovering the Alexander G. Clark story, thanks to a high school student from Marshalltown. [...] The wave of acclaim for the young historian shows no sign of receding.

But the really big winner is the Alexander Clark legacy itself, largely forgotten for a century. To the extent we welcome and embrace it, this recognition is a win for Clark's hometown, too. CLICK FOR MORE...

May 2006 (Leonard Kallio and Carolyn Levine)
Consider this sculptor for Clark monument

We understand that the process is only beginning and that community support is critical for this project to succeed. With such support, many worthy artists will be identified. We hope that Professor Jackson would be among those considered for a project honoring Alexander Clark. CLICK FOR MORE...

May 2006 (Brad Hesford)
Don't make race the primary fame factor

To say that he did what he did, and to claim it for blacks alone, nullifies the real intent of the Iowa Supreme Court words: "whether we are African, German, Irish, French, or English ... we are one harmonious people and we all should be treated alike." A statue inscripted with those words would be an exceptionally fitting tribute.

The only fitting location for this statue would be the now-vacant lot on the corner of W. Third & Chestnut, across the street from the Clark House highrise and within sight of the Clark House residence. CLICK FOR MORE...

May 2006 (Helen Van Hoozer)
Statue of Alexander Clark is great idea

I, being a fairly new resident of Muscatine, only learned of Alexander Clark Sr. and his important contributions to the city, state, and nation last January while planning an event "Rosa Parks and civil rights night" at the library in conjunction with Black History Month[...] It would be a marvelous idea to honor Alexander Clark's life by erecting a life-sized statue of him accompanied by a descriptive plaque presenting his many contributions and accomplishments. Not many towns in Iowa, if any, have had such a prominent resident who came from such humble beginnings and achieved so much. CLICK FOR MORE...

March 2005 (Daniel G. Clark)
If these walls could talk...

So, what did Clark do to become famous?

Many could cite his successful challenge to Muscatine's separate "African" school as Iowa's first court victory for civil rights. That's a good start. CLICK FOR MORE...


May 2005
No future plans for site of historic buildings announced

Two historic houses at the center of an ongoing battle between local preservationists and the city were torn down Monday, putting an end to any future speculation except for what might be built at their location. CLICK FOR MORE...


May 2006
Clark's legacy largely ignored

Doesn't Alexander G. Clark's legacy deserve a visible, public memorial somewhere in Muscatine? CLICK FOR MORE...

May 2005
Wanted: map for historic preservation

Whether you believe these houses should be saved or torn down, the West Third Street case does highlight the community's current struggle to define how much of our historic and cultural heritage should be preserved and/or restored. CLICK FOR MORE...

February 2005
Black history's impact more than annual observance

Question: Who was Alexander Clark?

Answer: Clark is regarded as Muscatine's most prominent black citizen and one of the community's most accomplished residents from any race. CLICK FOR MORE...



May 2005
Clark's Liberia Appointment Letter
Muscatine Arts Center acquires prized possession

More than a century ago, President Benjamin Harrison named "the Colored Orator of the West" as U.S. minister to the still-young republic, Liberia.

Today, Harrison's letter designating Muscatine resident Alexander Clark to that position is the Muscatine Art Center's newest prized possession. CLICK FOR MORE...

May 2005
From Muscatine's city housing director to freelance artist and teacher

The Clark House was the city's first high-rise building to provide subsidized housing for low-income elderly residents. [...] There were numerous problems involved with the project. One was that the facility was to be built on the property where the former home of Alexander G. Clark was located. [...] The house that had been Clark's home was finally moved up West Third to a new location and preserved. There were other legal questions and lawsuits that nearly blocked the project, but the Housing Commission prevailed in court and the Clark House was built. Naming the project in honor of Alexander G. Clark was part of the agreement. CLICK FOR MORE...

© Daniel G. Clark, 2005-2008
Updated January 14, 2008

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