On this day in 1973, the Richmond Times-Dispatch featured a photograph of Adèle Clark on its front page with the skeptical headline, “Beginning of an ERA?” The ninety-year-old Clark had shown up at the Highway Department auditorium—the largest meeting room near the Capitol—along with 800 others to express her opinion on the Equal Rights Amendment. As usual, Clark did not mince words. “This is an appalling amendment,” she told the audience. “It reflects the thinking of fifty years ago. They are fighting a battle that has already been won.”
Clark was a founding member of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia, nineteen years the chair of Virginia’s League of Women Voters, dean of women at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, New Deal-era field worker, and an accomplished artist and arts advocate. Clark called politics and art her “creative spirits,” and she exemplified the crucial role women played in the social reform movements of the twentieth century, applying her sharp intellect, artistic skills, and fiery determination to championing both women and the arts. She died in 1983 at the age of 100.
IMAGES: A placard used by woman suffrage activists early in the nineteenth century; a similar image can be seen here (Library of Virginia); this photograph of Adèle Clark was featured on the front page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch on February 2, 1973 (Richmond Times-Dispatch)