Pioneering black, female journalist and founder of Femme magazine Libby Clark died in her sleep in Inglewood late last month at the age of 94. Clark was a Columbia journalism grad who came to LA in 1945 with the hope of landing a big-time journalism job. Things did not go as planned.
From the Los Angeles Wave:
In 1949, Clark set her sights on returning to “mainstream journalism” and applied for a reporting job with the Los Angeles Times. “I went there five times trying to get a job, and they laughed at me; they treated me like a joke,” Clark said. “Finally, the Times’ food editor told me to stop trying to work for the Times because they were never going to hire me regardless of my qualifications or experience. I was devastated.”
If the LA Times treated her badly, the Greater Los Angeles Press Club treated her worse. The Times let her in the door; the Press Club would not. Clark explained that a fellow journalist, who was white, invited her to accompany him to an event the Press Club was holding. They wouldn’t let her in. She said she wasn’t trying to join the organization, just attend the event to which she had been invited. But no. She couldn’t come in because she was black and no blacks were allowed in the Los Angeles Press Club’s First Street premises for any reason, except maybe to clean it up.
After being thoroughly humiliated by the Times and the Press Club, Clark became the first African-American licensed in the state of California to own a public relations firm. It was called Libby Clark Associates, a PR business she operated for the next 50 years.
Clark also was a syndicated food writer, whose column appeared in more than 150 papers. She was awarded the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award on her 85th birthday.