- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 7, 2007

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Former Dallas County Sheriff Jim Clark, whose violent confrontations with voting rights marchers in Selma shocked the nation in 1965 and gave momentum to the civil rights movement, died June 4 at an Elba nursing home after years of declining health due to a stroke and heart surgery. He was 84.

Mr. Clark was voted out of office in 1966, in large measure because of opposition from newly registered black voters, but throughout his life he maintained he had done the right thing in 1965.

He and his deputies joined state troopers in attacking marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in March of that year, an event that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” It prompted Martin Luther King to lead a voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery and got Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Act opened Southern polling places to blacks and dramatically changed the political landscape of the South, including Selma. About 9,000 blacks registered to vote in Dallas County, where only 350 had been registered even though blacks made up a majority of the population.

Mr. Clark later sold mobile homes, largely staying out of the spotlight until 1978, when he spent nine months in federal prison for conspiring to import marijuana.

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