Jim Clark was first elected to the office of Sheriff in Selma, Alabama in 1958. He was at the center of the violent clashes that occurred in Selma in 1965. After his violent response to blacks attempting to register to vote was broadcast around the nation, Clark lost his re-election bid in 1966. After that he worked selling mobile homes in and around Selma, and eventually spent time in prison for selling marijuana. Today he lives in a nursing home in Elba, Alabama.
In 1965, Jim Clark was the ardently segregationist Sheriff Selma, Alabama in Dallas County. During that year's SCLC/SNCC protests against voter discrimination in Selma, Mayor Joe Smitherman and Public Safety Commissioner Wilson Baker hoped to blunt the force of the campaign by showing some restraint in dealing with demonstrators. However, the protests centered on the voter registration offices at the county courthouse, which fell under Clark's jurisdiction. Known for his violent temper and his use of Ku Klux Klan members as irregular deputies, Clark lived up to his reputation, beating and manhandling activists like Amelia Boynton, Rev. F.D. Reese and Rev. C.T. Vivian in front of news cameras. During the Bloody Sunday attack on marchers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Clark's mounted officers rode into the crowd, wielding bullwhips. Clark lost his re-election bid to Wilson Baker in the 1966 Democratic primary, largely due to gains in black voter registration under the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act was passed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was moved to action by the news coverage of Clark's violent behavior.
Information for this biography was gathered from the following sources: