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Charles Clemons looks at the bright side in spite of a litany of woes

Mayoral hopeful Charles Clemons (right) greeted teacher Susan Smith at a recent candidates’ forum in Dorchester.
Mayoral hopeful Charles Clemons (right) greeted teacher Susan Smith at a recent candidates’ forum in Dorchester. Jessica Rinaldi For The Boston Globe

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When Charles Clemons was born, he had Coats disease, a rare disorder that afflicts the eye. At age 3, he lost his right eye because of the disease.

At school, students picked on him. They used to tackle him to the ground, pluck out his artificial right eye, and throw it in the grass, laughing. Clemons said the bullying continued until he was 10, after his parents divorced, and his mother, Virginia, moved all her five children to Dorchester in the Grove Hall area.

“It’s painful thinking about it,” he recalled. “I never told my mother.”

Clemons, now 52, tells this story on the campaign trail, hoping to drive home a message that he knows what it is like to be counted out.

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