Updated: Sep 17
Tell us about your story and family connection with SCSCY.
My involvement with Southern Christian Services has been a family affair. My grandfather, Carneal E. Chambliss, Jr., was a founding member of Southern Christian Services. When my grandfather passed away, my grandmother, Gwendolyn Bishop Chambliss, assumed role as board member with Southern Christian Services. Gwendolyn served in this role until her passing on August 22, 2019. My grandmother’s favorite quote is, “I try to be kind, and follow the commandment that says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Love is one thing that each of us should have and if we are kind, we will share this love with every person we meet. It does not matter if the person is rich, poor, black, white or of another nationality. Remember to respect everyone. Respect is a two-way street.” I have assumed Gwendolyn’s role on the board continuing the Bishop family’s legacy of involvement with Southern Christian Services.
The Bishop family legacy of giving and philanthropy spans four generations of the family. My great grand-parents, Edward Simon Bishop Sr. and Eva Hunter Bishop, set the family bar for community involvement and engagement for generations to come. Edward, Sr. was the first African American Mayor in Corinth, MS. He began his career as a school principal at an all-black school that eventually became integrated. The legacy of philanthropy continued with my grandmother, Gwendolyn Bishop. In addition to serving as a beloved member of Southern Christian Services board, she also was a dedicated mentor with Forward Lookers and the JSD Foundation in partnership with the Myrlie and Medgar Evers Institute.
Through this partnership she mentored sixth grade males of color in JPS District and was twice recognized by Forward Lookers as “Mentor of the Year”. Ralph’s parents, Ralph V. Clark, Sr. and Karen Chambliss Clark, both attended Jackson State University. My father went into the ministry and my mother worked as a school administrator. Before eventually moving to Dallas, TX, my parents were both very involved in the community and volunteered their time helping others. I am a 4th generation Jacksonian, continuing the Bishop family legacy of service and philanthropy to support our community.
I am married to Mrs. Keneasha Clark and have a beautiful daughter, Hannah Clark who I hope one day continues the family legacy.
What inspired you to join the SCSCY board?
Growing up in a family environment that was surrounded by volunteerism, naturally inclined us to serve. The legacy means a great deal to us in both our family history and my day to day life. Knowing that this was a part of my grandmother’s legacy, means even more of a reason to continue being a servant and leader in my community. I recently joined Southern Christian Services this past January to continue my family legacy.
What are your impressions of SCSCY?
I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of dedication and impact that goes along with serving Southern Christian Services. I knew we did a lot, but I didn’t know we did this much. I was a third-party observer and saw interactions through my grandmother. I didn’t realize the amount of impact that goes along with being on the board and able to serve the children, youth and families. I don’t think this is by chance but instead something I have known all my life through family generations. This program is much needed now and in future endeavors.
What part of SCSCY interests you the most?
My interest is child advocacy. Sometimes the world can be a difficult place and just unfair. I don’t feel it’s right for children to be penalized when it’s not their fault. Every child deserves a good education and a chance to succeed in life. I believe you can make an impact with only a few and that impact will make a huge impact in their lives. At my church, I am a youth bible study leader, so I see children all the time who just need someone to be their champion and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.
My grandmother’s interest was children education. She believed investing in oneself through education. My grandmother serviced on the board alongside with Mrs. Hobbs. There was a time when she would tell me stories about how Mrs. Hobbs was her mentor and lifelong friend.
What type of role do you see yourself taking in SCSCY?
I see myself being a worker to start with. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty and helping out as much as I can. I feel you learn most about an organization when you work from the ground up. I am excited to learn everyone’s personalities on the board to see where I might be an influencer and best served. I enjoy problem solving but I am also good with taking direction and completing assignment. While my legacy means a great deal to me, I am eager to learn more about the organization and see what attributes I will be able to bring to the table.