December 31, 2020 was be the last official day that Judge Janice Clark will “dispense justice” in an official judicial capacity. The irony of the aforementioned statement is, if you know her then you know justice and equality has been the pillars of her foundation, the solid rock she stands on, the sheer existence of her being.
Janice Gartrell Clark, a native of Plainfield, N.J., was raised in the Baptist Church – Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church of both Plainfield and Baton Rouge. An Historically Black College and University queen who matriculated through Howard University and Florida A&M University (FAMU) for her baccalaureate studies and Southern University for her Jurist Doctorate (JD). Many may not know she accomplished many a feat including her JD while married with young children and living in Southern’s Married Student housing.
It has been said that “Legacy is not what’s left tomorrow when you’re gone. It’s what you give, create, impact and contribute today while you’re here that then happens to live on.” Janice Clark’s legacy will be an infinite piece of Louisiana history for years.
She naturally wielded power from her youthful days before there ever was an inclination for a judicial position. See my mother began fighting the good fight way back during the famous March On Washington. She MARCHED!! As a FAMU student she led the march and protest for civil rights and the FAMU Law Center!
She MARCHED as an attorney. She fought for the rights of others through a plethora of avenues, including private practice, the Board of Directors for Capital Area Legal Services, Gus Young Nonviolence, the NAACP and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.!! She LED!! She led a group of Black attorneys and sued the State of LA at the U.S. Supreme Court to carve and create Minority Voting blocs and Districts! She WON!! Louisiana has more black judges than many states because of her lawsuit! She also was instrumental in leading the charge for creating and building the new 19th Judicial District Court’s 12-story courthouse.
Leaving and retiring from the 19th JDC may mark the end of an era on that bench, in that job, in that space, but not in her natural God-given position as Servant and Fighter for the people. She will continue to walk in her purpose, fighting the good fight, until like the Rev. Martin Luther King’s said: “Justice Rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Janice Clark is truly proof that Your Legacy is not a destination. It is a journey. Her life’s work is a catalyst for Social Change and Justice that will be encouraging to the next generation of lawyers, community servants and activists. I am so proud of her contributions to this community, state and country. I am honored to be one of many that stood on her shoulders. She truly epitomizes what you leave behind is not what is engraved in some stone monument but what is woven into the lives of others.
I believe we should give people their flowers while they are living…Thank You…