Marilyn Clement, Civil Rights Leader, RIP

Ann Wright

I met Marilyn Clement, the national coordinator for Healthcare-NOW, in Atlanta several years ago as I hitched a ride to a stop the war march and rally in Atlanta.

As I got into the car, Marilyn introduced herself as working in the healthcare field.

We chatted generally as we drove into Atlanta and then got dropped off near Ebenezer Church to find our places in the march. As we slowly walked to the church through the Martin Luther King Memorial and Museum area, two young fellows emerging from the museum walked past and then turned and came back to us.

One said to Marilyn, "You look an awful lot like the woman in the pictures with Dr. King we saw in the museum. Is that you?"

Marilyn smiled and said, "Thanks for recognizing me. You guys have pretty sharp eyes to recognize me 40 years after those pictures were taken!"

Marilyn Clement met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the late 1960s, while on the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

She later became director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and helped create the National Anti-Klan Network, now the Center for Democratic Renewal.

She helped build political power in the South through the Ministers Leadership Training Program, which opened the door for blacks to become elected officials.

The latter years of her life Marilyn devoted getting healthcare for all Americans.

Marilyn died today and we miss her already!


Ann Wright is a retired US Army Colonel and a former US diplomat who resigned in opposition to the war on Iraq.

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