Power 9® People

By guruscottyJuly 1, 2024No Comments


An ongoing series about people improving their well-being

Fort Worth is the largest certified Blue Zones Community® in the country. Blue Zones Project is one of the initiatives Texas Health supports to impact health and well-being across North Texas. Each month we talk to a different member of our community and find out how they promote well-being in their neighborhood. This month’s featured guests are Jill Darden and Jiles Clark, a mother-and-son duo who are changing lives in the spaces they occupy. Jill is the publisher of Fort Worth Black News, which has been a beacon for a community that’s often overlooked by larger news outlets. Jiles became a published author at age 11 and his first book, Never Give Up, garnered rave reviews from talk show host Kelly Clarkson and WFAA-TV’s Tashara Parker, who featured Jiles on her “I Am Up” segment.


Q: On the topic of entrepreneurship – both of you have strong female role models. Jill, you’ve produced Fort Worth Black News for 27 years. You’ve mentioned your inspiration is your late mother Chris Lott, who published a newspaper in Wichita Falls. She got you involved in her work early on in your life.

Jill: One of my first jobs was delivering the paper to local customers. I fell in love with the news, having regular customers, and the business.

Q: And Jiles, you’re following in your mother’s footsteps?

Jiles: I have a graphic design business. I love editing videos, making posters, and fliers.

Jill:  He runs the Instagram page for Fort Worth Black News and designs graphics – he’s been doing that since I figured out he could!

Q: But you want Jiles to be known as more than just the boss’s kid.

Jill: His graphic design business is his business. I don’t want him to be his mom’s employee. I taught him entrepreneurship with the books he’s written.

Q: Jiles, you started encouraging community well-being with your writing early on. You’ve authored four books, including Be Yourself, published when you were 13. And your books are targeted mostly to your peers, focusing on messages of strength and resilience. What are you hoping to communicate?

Jiles: Our generation (teenagers) – we’re coming! COVID and the shutdown gave us a lot of ideas, and we’re determined. We have differences but we can set those aside. We thrive. That’s what A Thrive Guide For Teenagers (written when he was 15) is about. Check out Jilesbooks.com

Q: Jiles is so outgoing with people of all ages, not just his peers. Jill, to what do you credit his poise?

Jill: I took him to work with me because I didn’t have family available to help.  I had an event with the Black Chamber of Commerce and I said, “I can’t come because I don’t have a babysitter.” DeVoyd Jennings told me to bring him with me. So, I took him with me everywhere, and that’s why he’s comfortable in so many situations.

Q: Another of the ways you encourage community well-being is with “On the Spiritual Side,” which was first a Facebook series and then a book with a chapter for each week of the year.

Jill: I am sharing my faith – people know I’m spiritual even though I don’t share that. It’s a thing I feel led to do, and I’m making it available.

Q: And you recently collaborated with the Kimbell Art Museum for a Fort Worth Black News evening of music and snacks in the museum, which also had a higher purpose.

Jill: It was great. We welcomed people who may not have visited the museum before. Art is for everyone. Art and beautiful surroundings lift the spirit.

Q: And this is part of the Kimbell’s outreach into the community?

Jill: It’s a deliberate attempt to invite the African American community in, to say this space is for everyone. The African American journey is sometimes about protesting and responding to injustice. We should have the opportunity to breathe and enjoy beauty too.

Q: How has Fort Worth Black News changed over the last 27 years?

Jill: We now have digital subscriptions so you can receive content in your inbox. But print is important because the business market is cyclic. What becomes old to one generation becomes new to another. You need to hold your place in the market because someone will reintroduce what you let go.

Q: Jiles, you’ve been deeply involved in student government since you were in middle school where you served on the Hope Squad.

Jiles: Hope Squad is a national suicide prevention and mental health program. I wrote Never Give Up a year before that time to encourage people who were going through tough times.

Q: And now that you’re in high school, you’re continuing with student government, and you sing in your school’s choir.

Jiles: I’ve served as student senator for two years at I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and Visual Performing Arts, and this year I was elected as Marketing Chair for the student body.

Q: That fits right in with your marketing business. Jill, what’s next for Fort Worth Black News?

Jill: Our signature event, the Backyard Barbecue, happens on July 20 at the Forest Hill Convention Center. The community comes together to enjoy delicious food and live entertainment. I say it’s like the pages of the newspaper coming to life – all the people you see advertised in the paper and the newsmakers are there in person.

Q: Jiles, in addition to everything else that you do, you’re a singer in your school’s choir. You got to sing the National Anthem at a Texas Rangers game in May and you won a place in the prestigious All-State choir. We know your mom is proud of your work ethic.

Jiles: Mom inspired me because she’s hard-working and very understanding. I can come to her with any problem and she’ll listen, but she’ll also be real. She has always involved me in events. She lifts people up.

Learn more about well-being and the Power 9 at LiveLongFortWorth.com.