A single mother in 1946, Marie Clarke began work as a mechanic at the largest aircraft manufacturer in the United States located in Columbus, Ohio. Soon after, Clarke became a labor organizer and recruiter for the United Auto Workers charged with raising awareness and organizing women to become part of the union. After 22 years in the aircraft industry, Clarke was the first African American woman to be elected to the executive board of the UAW local 927. In 1969, she left the industry and took a job as a clerical worker at Columbus City Hall where she was supportive of a strike among the city’s sanitation workers who were part of the AFSCME Local 1632 union. After the strike, Clarke was instrumental in organizing clerical workers to join the local 1632 union.
From 1980–1992 Clarke served as the secretary-treasurer of the AFSCME Local 1632 union and was a member of the AFSCME Local 1632 Chapter 108 as a retiree. In 1986, she was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame.