Town of Garner Cultural Arts and Events Manager Lorie Clark has received the 2021 Margaret Rigg Social Justice Award, which recognizes an alumna who has demonstrated committed service in the advancement of gender and family justice since graduation from Eckerd College.
Clark has worked for social justice in the Chapel Hill–Carrboro community of North Carolina for more than two decades. As a high school specialist to the Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate Program (BRMA) in the Chapel Hill–Carrboro City Schools for 18 years, she provided opportunities for student growth with a social justice focus. In BRMA, she created experiences for students of color that empowered them to succeed in spaces not originally welcoming to them.
She also was the adviser of BRMA’s Youth Leadership Institute, serving 100 students of all races each year. Under Lorie’s guidance, the Blue Ribbon Leadership Institute was the third-largest extracurricular program in the school district and earned the University of North Carolina’s University Diversity Award.
“I am delighted and humbled to be this year’s recipient of the Eckerd College Margaret Rigg Social Justice Award,” Clark said. “I believe my family’s commitment to service and the experiences at Eckerd College prepared me for a life of service to others.”
In her current role as youth adviser to the Chapel Hill–Carrboro NAACP Council, Lorie worked with students to organize peaceful protests in support of the changes asked by the Black Lives Matter movement. With homemade posters, students marched—socially distant and masked—in summer’s heat with community leaders from Chapel Hill–Carrboro’s NAACP and local churches.
Lorie’s work for social justice extends beyond the school system. She founded The Hannah Ruth Foundation to honor her maternal and paternal grandmothers, who have deep roots in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. By bringing together the youth and the elderly, bonds are built between generations, as bridges to the future. The youth learn about the elderly through service—including holiday meal delivery and organizing events such as a formal Valentine’s Day dance and a holiday party for seniors.
Lorie’s service has been recognized by many organizations, including the Chapel Hill–Carrboro NAACP and National Council of Negro Women. Among numerous awards for her community service, the Pauli Murray Service Award, given to Lorie in 2019 by the Orange County Human Rights Commission, is particularly significant. Born in the Jim Crow era, Pauli Murray—poet, writer, activist, labor organizer, legal theorist and Episcopal priest—overcame obstacles during her youth in nearby Durham, North Carolina. In learning about her, one student wrote that Murray reminded her of Lorie Clark: “Ahead of her time, and behind the scenes.”
Lorie began her employment with the Garner Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department in January of 2020 as the Cultural Arts and Events Manager.