LAS CRUCES – Clarence H. Fielder was born in Las Cruces in 1928. He was a grandchild of early African American pioneers, Daniel and Ollie Hibler, who built Phillips Chapel C.M.E. Church, which served as a segregated school from 1925 to 1934. Clarence was educated at the segregated schools for Black children in Las Cruces. His schooling began at the first Booker T. Washington School when it was just two tar paper shacks on the north side of town. Later he graduated from the new (in 1934) Booker T. Washington, where all Black children attended grades 1 to 12. Mr. Fielder received his B.A. from New Mexico A&M College, now New Mexico State University (NMSU).
He was a dedicated and much-loved teacher. Over three generations of students benefited by his teachings. He always believed that the student should come first. His philosophy about education can be summarized in his own words: “Know thyself. Wisdom is received from our elders and what we pass down from generation to generation. It is important for people to know their heritage. It’s important for people to remember from whence they came.”
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His career highlights and awards include: Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education; Board of Directors, Las Cruces Public Schools Foundation; President of the Doña Ana County Historical Society; State Teacher of the Year Award; Outstanding Educational Services Award; “Griot Award” from the African American Museum and Cultural Center in Albuquerque, and Governor-appointed member of the Cultural Properties Review Committee. He was recognized twice by the New Mexico Office of Cultural Affairs for outstanding individual accomplishment in preserving the history of African Americans, and given the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award.
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When Mr. Fielder passed away in 2015, Las Cruces Mayor Miyagishima said, “Las Cruces has lost a kind and gentle man, a great educator and a great mentor. Clarence Fielder was an icon of our community.”
The CFSNM’s Clarence H. Fielder Scholarship will be accepting applications in the Spring of 2021. In 2020, the Equity and Inclusion Scholarship was started and began collecting donations to fully endow a scholarship fund. The fund designed to support African American students from historically underrepresented backgrounds; the recipient(s) must be enrolled full-time in a community college, university program, or technical college in the state of New Mexico, and shall be in good academic standing with a 2.0 GPA or higher.
“Providing opportunities for students to further their education is one of our most significant roles at the CFSNM”, says Terra V. Winter, President and CEO, CFSNM. “We are proud to support hundreds of students with scholarships each year. When we launched the Equity and Inclusion Scholarship in the Spring of 2020, our announcement coincided with articles about Mr. Fielder. His family and friends desire to see Mr. Fielder’s name memorialized gave our team the push to reach out to the family and ask if we could hold the honor of memorializing Mr. Fielder’s name with an annual scholarship.”
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Our efforts to serve, connect and support southern New Mexico are ongoing. Thanks to support from the community, a matching donation of up to $2,500 is being offered for this scholarship until December 1, 2020, which is also Giving Tuesday.
For more information about this scholarship opportunity, or to make a donation to the Clarence H. Fielder memorial Scholarship Fund head to CFSNM.org, visit the CFSNM Instagram/Facebook pages, email the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the CFSNM office at 575-521-4794.