Two people looking straight at the camera, one person socialized as a man with blue checkered shirt, white beard, gray hair and glasses. And the other person socialized as a woman, with pink blouse and white hair. Both hugging and laughing

Photo courtesy of Needham Guatemala Partnership

Clark Taylor (and his late wife Kay) were champions and stalwarts of the Needham Sponsoring Community (which they founded). Clark’s volunteer field work with anthropologist Beatriz Manz in the 1970s and 80s contributed to her books Refugees of a Hidden War: The Aftermath of Counterinsurgency in Guatemala and Paradise in Ashes, the latter of which explores the history of Santa Maria Tzejá (Quiché, Guatemala). 

Much has and will continue to be said about Clark and Kay, but for the communities of Needham  in Massachusetts, United States and Santa Maria Tzejá, Clark’s passing marks the end of an era of giants. Clark and Kay created a partnership between the Congregational Church in Needham and Santa Maria Tzejá in 1987. This enduring partnership, which includes twice annual delegations of people from Needham (and thereabouts) to Santa Maria Tzejá, bringing international solidarity, funds administered directly by the community improvement committee, and carrying physical duffel bags of letters from 135 families who have maintained “partner family” relationships with 135 families in Tzejá, endures today.

Clark and Kay (who passed earlier this year) shaped a generation of Needham youth (and hundreds of others) to care deeply about Guatemala, challenge their assumptions about the United States being benevolent (or even benign), and act in our own communities to leverage our privilege in solidarity with communities internationally. 

What I know is that without Clark and Kay, I wouldn’t be who I am, and I would never have found a home in NISGUA. For that alone, I am deeply grateful. And I am also deeply grateful for the hundreds of people whose lives they have touched in the Boston area and beyond, people who have been inspired and compelled to look beyond borders, to challenge US imperialism, and to ground all of that work in relationships and shared humanity.

Clark Taylor, Presente ♥️

Written by Amanda Kistler