Riverside African-American community leader Lulamae Clemons dies at 105 – Press Enterprise

Lulamae Clemons, a longtime civil rights leader in Riverside’s African-American community, has died. She was 105 years old.

Clemons was instrumental in the years-long movement to build a statue of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. in downtown Riverside, spoke out in support of the naming of Riverside King High School in the 1990s and helped get the Grier Pavilion – named after civil rights activists Barnett and Eleanor Jean Grier – built at Riverside City Hall.

As a nurse, community leader and advocate for education and housing equality, Clemons, who died on January 7 at her Riverside home, faced racism and segregation throughout her life. , according to a biography by the UC Riverside Citizens University Committee.

  • Community leader Lulamae Clemons is seen at her 100th birthday party at the Riverside Community Hospital Events Center in December 2017. Clemons died on January 7, 2022 at her home in Riverside. (Courtesy of Richard Lemire, Riverside County Fair Housing Council)

  • Lulamae Clemons, right, is seen with her son, Frank McClanahan, in 2015. (Courtesy Marlan McClanahan)

  • Lulamae Clemons is seen with her grandson, Frank McClanahan IV. (Courtesy of Marlan McClanahan)

  • Lulamae Clemons died at her home in Riverside on January 7, 2022. She was 105. (Courtesy of Marlan McClanahan)

  • Lulamae Clemons is seen on a visit to Jerusalem. (Courtesy of Marlan McClanahan)

Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside, adjourned an Assembly meeting Thursday, Jan. 20, in his memory.

Born in Arkansas in 1917, Clemons and her family moved to Pueblo, Colorado so she could attend a non-segregated school. But she experienced segregation later in education, according to the biography. Clemons graduated from high school in Pueblo and was one of its first 13 black students.

While studying to become a nurse, Clemons was denied admission to nursing school in Pueblo because of her race, the biography states. She went on to earn an M.A. and Ph.D. from USC.

Clemons moved to Riverside in 1956. She worked as a health education consultant, becoming one of the first black administrators hired by the Riverside County Office of Education.

She served as president of the Riverside Chapter of the NAACP, led its Head Start program, and served as the first chair of the Riverside Community Relations Commission.

“It was never just a one-off thing for her; it was lifelong community service, to make his home and his world a better place to live,” said his grandson, Riverside resident Marlan McClanahan.

Clemons was vice president of the Riverside County Fair Housing Council, where she fought for equal housing rights for African Americans.

“There is still work to be done to ensure that we all enjoy equal opportunities for all,” she said in a 2009 interview.

Rose Mayes, who worked with Clemons for a decade to get the King monument built, called her longtime friend and mentor “remarkable and respectful”.

“Knowing that Lulamae lived through the 1930s, 40s and 50s, coming to Riverside and being able to put a monument of a black man downtown, was very enlightening and empowering,” Mayes said.

Clemons co-wrote “The American Negro”, which was distributed in French-speaking African countries and adopted as a social studies textbook. She was inducted into the UC Riverside Women’s Hall of Fame in 1999 and named Citizen of the Year by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce in 2002. She has been recognized by the Riverside African American Historical Society for her decades of service and won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fair Housing Council.

A future Riverside museum, the Civil Rights Institute of Southern California, plans to include Clemons in an exhibit of local heroes.

“She loved to travel,” McClanahan said of her grandmother. “And his secret was a glass of wine with every meal.”

Clemons is survived by his son, Frank McClanahan III, and his grandchildren Marlan McClanahan, Kevin McClanahan and Frank McClanahan IV.

Clemons will be cremated at McKay’s morgue in Riverside. Funeral arrangements are being determined.

Donations may be made to the Elizabeth and Jack B. Clarke Scholarship, Eleanor Jean Grier and Barnett Scholarship, Cecil and Rose Oliver Scholarship, and Magnolia Baptist Church 8351 Deacon Benevolent Fund.

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