Richmonder takes Air Force Academy to new heights as first Black superintendent

Our RVA Richard Clark .png
Posted at 2:00 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 18:45:18-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Lieutenant General Richard Milo Clark made history last year when he began his duties as the first Black superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy on Sept. 23.

Clark is a 1982 graduate of Jefferson/Huguenot/Wythe High School, now known as Huguenot High School.

During his formative years in Richmond, Clark was first-team all-state in football and track. He said being a part of the team helped shape who he has become as man and a leader.

“I’m grateful to all my teachers, my friends, my teammates from Richmond because they were all so important in those years in my life that helped me to get here,” said Clark.

Clark is not the first in his family to trail-blaze the title of superintendent.

In February 1976, his father, Dr. Richard C. Hunter became Richmond's first Black school superintendent -- a position he held until 1984.

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Dr. Richard C. Hunter (left) and Lieutenant General Richard Milo Clark (right)

“We’re both the first Black superintendents!” Clark said. “But I don’t think we ever made that connection, cause our jobs are so different. In title, they’re the same, but for him and what he did for the Richmond Public Schools in total was just enormous.”

Clark said becoming the superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy was something he thought about for the last 10 years.

“It’s been a dream job for me for several years and to actually be able to get the job and to be here and to make a contribution to our air force and our space force, it really is a dream come true, so I’m excited and honored,” he said.

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The United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado

The historical mark of Clark being the first African American in the role is not something he takes lightly.

“The history is not lost on me. I am honored to be the first Black superintendent, but honestly, at this point, I’m past that, because now I’ve got to perform.”

Clark has dutifully taken on his new responsibilities, channeling inspiration from historical Black figures in the U.S. Air Force before him.

“You can see behind me my picture of a Red Tail Tuskegee Airmen aircraft,” Clark pointed out during the interview. “They're the ones that sort of paved the way for me. So, I think the fact that I am here, I need to show that level of performance, just like they did.”

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Clark has a photo of a Red Tail Tuskegee Airmen aircraft hanging in his office for inspiration

Clark also hopes he can instill the mindset he kept while reaching for his goal of becoming superintendent into cadets at the academy as they embrace their own journeys.

“Don’t let someone derail you from your dreams. You just got to dig in,” said Clark. “You've got to get your education and don’t let go of it. Just keep pressing. Don’t let the setbacks discourage you. Just bounce back and keep on pushing.”

Watch Candace Burns' "Our RVA" reports Wednesdays on CBS 6 News at 4 and 5:30 p.m. If you know someone Candace should feature, email her at Candace.Burns@wtvr.com.

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