Fort Worth Weekly’s story on Candy Clark (“Graffiti Artist,” July 3, 2013) included a quote from her brother, William, lamenting that the American Graffit star gets little notice from her hometown despite having been the only actor nominated for an Academy Award from the cast of that classic movie.
“Maybe she needs a publicist just for Fort Worth,” he joked.
Since then, someone has stepped into that role, and now the City of Fort Worth has declared Oct. 26 to be Candy Clark Day. A celebration with music, a classic car show, food vendors, and discussions on American Graffiti — now celebrating its 40th anniversary — will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Trimble Tech High School. A plaque will be presented to Clark at 3 p.m.
The “publicist” who drummed up support for a Clark celebration was none other than the Rev. Kyev Tatum, better known for his civil rights stances and battles with the Fort Worth school district. Tatum was perturbed that a hometown gal who had accomplished so much during her Hollywood career had received so little recognition at home.
Tatum and Clark both attended Trimble Tech High School. (Clark graduated in 1965, the same year Tatum was born.)
“We connect,” he said. “This is a bridging of the generations.”
Tatum began planning the celebration before he’d even spoken with Clark. He tracked her down and pitched his idea. She was blown away by his enthusiasm. “He’s a dynamo,” she said. “I can’t wait to see how this all winds up. I’m very excited.”
Part of Tatum’s motivation came from being a wide-eyed fan. Since he started working on the project, “Every now and then I look over at my wife and say, ‘I’m talking to Candy Clark, a Hollywood actress!’” Tatum said. “It’s been fun.”
But he is also intent on drawing positive attention to Trimble Tech, a school that gave Tatum, who grew up without a dad, the education and discipline that helped turn around his life. Now the school provides office space for Tatum’s Brilliant Bulldog Center, a mentoring and tutoring program.
“When I read the [Weekly] story, one of the things that struck me was … we really have not, as a city, shown her appreciation for making us proud,” he said. “Forty years in Hollywood is no easy game. She’s done it well and is still the girl next door. This has become a labor of love because of her personality and her spirit.”
Organizers are seeking sponsors to help cover the cost of the celebration and also to help fund Trimble Tech programs. Clark plans to visit the school on Friday, the day before the celebration, and spend time with students.
“For her to donate an entire weekend to her alma mater to help raise money for the Bulldogs says it all,” Tatum said. “It shows you the love she has for this community and this school.”