Huntsville Revisited- Peter Humphries Clark
Peter Humphries Clark was born on March 29, 1829 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was an abolitionist writer, and eloquent speaker, and in 1849 he was the first black teacher hired by the Cincinnati public school system. Because he was active in politics he inspired black voters in Ohio. Peter’s father, Michael Clark, was a successful barber and sent his son to private schools because there were no public schools in the area. His father died in 1849; so, Peter took over the business for a short time. Because of the efforts of Peter’s uncle, John Gains, black schools were authorized by the Ohio legislature. Later Peter became a teacher in the black school, but he was fired in 1853 by the white Board of Education for his public approval of Thomas Paine.
During the next four years, he participated in the Ohio Convention of Colored Men, and edited and published his own newspaper. He was appointed secretary of the 1853 National Convention of Colored Men, by Frederick Douglass. In 1854 he married Francis Ann Williams. In 1857 he was rehired by the black trustees of the colored schools and made principal of the Western District School in Cincinnati. He became principal of Gaines High School in 1866 and held that post until 1886, when he was fired on political grounds. He left Cincinnati in 1887 to serve as principal of the Alabama State normal and Industrial School in Huntsville, and in 1888 went to St. Louis where he taught at the segregated Sumner High School for twenty years. In 1878 he ran for congress on the Socialistic Labor Party ticket.
William H. Hampton