Clara Jackson McLaughlin passed away on October 3, 2021, at the age of 81.
She was best known for being the first Black woman to own and be the majority shareholder of a network-affiliated TV station in the United States. Upon securing ownership of KLMG-TV in East Texas, she also became the first Black person to own a CBS affiliate station. She was born in Brunswick, Georgia, where she spent the early years of her childhood. When her family moved to Gainesville, Florida, she attended the historic, all-Black Lincoln High School.
A proud graduate of Howard University, she was instrumental in establishing a journalism major at the institution. She also served as the editor-in-chief of the school’s yearbook in 1972 when it received national recognition as the first HBCU to win the All American Award for a student publication. In addition, she was a Navy Veteran and served in San Diego, California. She lived for many years in Texas (Houston and Dallas) before returning to Florida.
After having her first child, she noticed the need for childcare books on raising Black children. This observation led to her writing the first-ever Black-focused childcare book, The Black Parents’ Handbook. Proceeds of the book went to her sorority-Zeta Phi Beta. She always believed that media in any form was the best way to get information to the Black Community. She felt information kept people engaged and empowered no matter the format, including the newspaper.
She became the owner of The Florida Star and Georgia Star newspapers in 2002, bringing her life to a full circle by returning to the Florida community with one of her first loves, journalism. She truly loved being back in North Florida as she enjoyed a great relationship with many churches, charities, law enforcement associations, sports teams, and area businesses.
Her endeavors led to her becoming a trusted advocate in the community, the recipient of numerous honors including a Distinguished Alumni Award from Howard University, and the guest of several U.S. presidents. In her later years, she beat breast cancer twice and other illnesses. She spent the last month on home hospice after a hard-fought battle with illness.
Clara will be missed by many as she leaves behind two children, a grandson, and many other family members and friends.
The family knows so many have their own stories about her and asks friends to send those stories to the Florida Star via mail P.O. Box 40629, Jacksonville, FL 32203, or email email@example.com.