Born in 1919, Dr. Johnnie Ruth Clarke grew up in the segregated South. Early on, she vowed she would be somebody, and went on to earn a bachelor's degree in Social Science from Florida A&M University and a master's degree from Fisk University.
In 1966, she became the first African-American to receive a doctorate from the University of Florida's College of Education.
Clarke taught in the Pinellas County Public School System, as well as at Bethune-Cookman College and Florida A&M University. She served as dean of Gibbs Junior College in the 1950s, and as assistant dean of academic affairs at St. Petersburg Junior College in the 1960s. To honor her commitment to students and the community, St. Petersburg College established an academic scholarship in her name.
Dr. Clarke was a member of a number of Honor Societies.
Dr. Clarke served on many Boards and Commissions.
In 1972, Dr. Clarke founded the Florida State Sickle Cell Foundation, Inc.
Clarke died in 1978 at age 58. She is remembered as a humanitarian, educator, mentor, wife and mother.