Mississippi’s first Black female lawmaker announces retirement

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 3:35 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - After nearly 38 years in office, Mississippi’s first Black female lawmaker is stepping down.

On Tuesday, District 69 Rep. Alyce Clarke announced her retirement, capping a historic career at the Mississippi State Capitol.

“Now don’t just think of me as the lottery lady. Don’t think of me as the Born Free lady. Think of me as somebody who tried to help somebody along the way,” she said. “And that’s all I’ve been doing for the last 38 years.”

Clarke, a graduate of Alcorn State University and Tuskegee University, began her first term in the House in 1985, as a representative for Hinds County.

Clarke played a major role in pushing through several key pieces of state legislation, including the act creating a state lottery.

“Those of you who just got here, don’t know it. I’ve been here 37 years and 11 and a half months,” she said. “Ladies, I want you all to know that before I got here, there was no ladies’ room for us. In addition to the other things, I got us a bathroom.”

Clarke said she hopes whoever replaces her will continue to work for the community, for the county, and not just for themselves.

“Let me say on behalf of the entire membership you’ve served your constituents with class and dignity,” House Speaker Philip Gunn said. “You have made your people very proud; you have made the state of Mississippi proud...”

The chamber erupted in applause.

“You’re always welcome back here, lady,” he said. “Always remember that.”

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