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Clement Richardson, of Jefferson City, president of the Lincoln Institute, deserves mention as an eminent educator, for his professional work has been not merely instilling knowledge into the minds of pupils but has been broad in its scope, thoughtful in its purposes and human in its tendency. lie has studied the individual and his requirement, has met the needs of the school and has made valuable contributions to literature that has to do with his profession.
Mr. Richardson was born June 23. 1878, in Halifax county, Virginia, a son of Leonard and Louise (Barksdale) Richardson. In his youthful days he attended the White Oak Grove country school, but his opportunity to pursue his studies was limited to a brief period each year, as it was necessary that he work in the tobacco fields. He was still quite a young lad when obliged to leave school in Virginia, and later he became mail carrier for the Brow Hill plantation near Paces station. In 1895, however, prompted thereto by a laudable ambition, he made his way to Massachusetts seeking work and with a view to promoting his education. After spending some years in Winchester, Massachusetts, working in a tannery, a glue factory and on a farm, through the help of the Young Men’s Christian Association and the First Baptist church of Winchester, he was able to enter the Dwight L. Moody Mount Herman school for boys. It was in the fall of 1897 that he entered Mount Herman, there pursuing a classical course, working all the time to pay his way, doing cooking and farm work and thus meeting his expenses. In 1902 he became a student in Brown University of Providence, Rhode Island, where he remained for three years, doing work in advance of his classes all the time. Again he managed to meet the expenses of his course through his own labors. After leaving Brown University he became a student at Harvard in 1905 and was graduated there from In 1907 with the Bachelor of Arts degree. During his student days there he specialized In English literature and rhetoric and while in college he wrote for various publications. When his course at Harvard was completed he became a writer for newspapers and was with the Boston Globe during the summer and fall of 1907.
In the autumn of that year he took the position as head of the department of English literature and rhetoric in Morehouse Institute, at Atlanta, Georgia, where he remained for a year. He next went to the Tuskegee Institute of Alabama as head of the English literature department and remained in that famous institution of learning for ten years, after which he became connected with the Lincoln Institute of Jefferson City and was made president thereof. Great indeed have been the changes which have occurred not only in connection with the public life of the country but in the thought life of Mr. Richardson. He relates some Interesting stories concerning his boyhood days, when he argued that women should not vote and that the wheelbarrow was more essential to the farmer than the ox. While at Mount Herman he was editor of the preparatory school paper, was also president of the Pierien Literary Society of the Institution and reader of the Glee Club. He was a frequent winner of prizes for both oratory and declamation, and his activities along those lines were continued throughout his college days. At Tuskegee Institute he kept in touch with all the teachers as well as the students and was constantly inspiring those associated with him with much of his own real interest in the work. He took great delight in literary activity and was responsible for all the public speaking at the famous Booker T. Washington school, He staged a dramatic form of Halloween observance and also Thanksgiving day exercises for the senior class and also a drama for the teachers and one for the senior class. In one year he put on the play Merchant of Venice with the teachers as actors and Midsummer Night’s Dream with the student class for the roles of the play. Once a year he also staged an exercise by the African students to raise funds to support a Tuskegee chapel in Liberia. In the Christmas season of 1916 he established at Tuskegee the community Christmas tree, thus bringing joy to some three or four hundred students, who otherwise would have no pleasant reminder or celebration of the season.
For the last two years Mr. Richardson has taken an enthusiastic interest in rural education. He makes many trips into the country with the agents of the Tuskegee extension department, making addresses to the people and writing about them for papers and magazines on his return. During all the years that have intervened since his own college days he has been a frequent contributor to magazines and daily papers, having written for the Country Gentleman, the American Magazine, Independent, Survey, Southern Workman and for daily and weekly papers and also for the Missionary Review of the World. He was often with Dr. Booker T. Washington on the latter’s tours as a writer for papers and magazines. Mr. Richardson is the author of several booklets and pamphlets, and his articles have always awakened wide interest and attention. The Lincoln Institute was in need of a man like him, as has been shown by the vast improvement made in the institution since he has taken charge. He is receiving the cordial and hearty support of the residents of Jefferson City and they look forward to the state’s showing its appreciation of his work by making substantial improvements in the school in the way of erecting the much needed buildings and supplying facilities for carrying on its work. A bill passed by the last legislature carried with it an appropriation of one-half a million dollars for the Lincoln Institute, which now has the largest enrollment in its history, having over five hundred pupils. This will enable Mr. Richardson greatly to enhance the usefulness of the school. He is the editor-in-chief of the National Encyclopedia of the Colored Race, published by the National Publishing Company of Montgomery, Alabama, in one volume in 1919. It is an interesting work of six hundred and twenty pages.
On the 1st of September, 1908, Mr. Richardson was married to Miss Ids J. Rivers, of Meridian, Mississippi, whose father is a Baptist minister and was educated at Talladega, Alabama. The children of this marriage are four daughters: Louise Elizabeth, Ids R., Clementine and Evelyn Adele.
The religious faith of the family is that of the Baptist church. Fraternally Mr. Richardson is a thirty-third degree Mason and is connected with the Knights of Pythias. He is very fond of farm life, particularly stock raising, and to this he turns for recreation as he does also to pedestrian exercises, walking from ten to twenty miles per day when possible. He is a man of strong personality, who is doing a splendid work in connection with the Lincoln Institute, and his usefulness in this particular will steadily increase because of his high ideals and his laudable ambition.