Emory Clark


Emory James Clark (1925-2021) was born in rural Georgia. He served in World War II and graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana in 1952 with a B.S. in Pharmacy. Emory and his wife, Xonnabel (Green), relocated to Cambridge in 1953; Xonnabel attended Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Emory dreamed of owning his own pharmacy. He walked from Cambridge to Boston, seeking employment at every drug store on the route; not one store would hire a Black pharmacist. Finally, Cole’s Drug Store in Central Square offered him a place as a drug clerk earning $58 a week, a position he accepted to gain experience. Within months, Emory was promoted to senior pharmacist with an increase in pay.

Still, Emory wanted his own establishment. To raise needed capital, he started a pushcart snow cone business, which grew into an ice cream truck. When the opportunity arose to purchase a site for his own pharmacy, at 407-409 Concord Avenue, he faced opposition from neighbors who feared a drug store would attract drug addicts. But “Doc” Clark persevered: Emory’s Pharmacy opened in 1971 and operated successfully for 20 years until 1990. Never one to be idle, he continued to run his ice cream truck business until 1999.

Emory Clark overcame discrimination to become the first and (to date) only African American to own and operate a pharmacy in Cambridge. He is buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery.

“In life, you do whatever is necessary to find a way.”