Interview with Mayor Joseph Smitherman
QUESTION 10
INTERVIEWER:

I JUST WANT TO PUSH A LITTLE BIT MORE ON JIM CLARK, BECAUSE THERE WAS ALWAYS A TENDENCY TO MAKE CLARK THE GOAT, TO MAKE HIM THE BAD GUY, WHAT, WHAT WAS HE REALLY LIKE, WHAT, WHAT REALLY HAPPENED WITH JIM CLARK?

Mayor Joseph Smitherman:

Well, it was politics, you had the White Citizens' Council, what they did at one time prior to Dr. King coming in, uh, even John Lewis and all of those, the Citizens' Council got the Sheriff and he formed a posse, he had a riding posse and he had a walking posse. You know, in the state laws, statutes like the Old West where could you have a posse. Well uh, they had brown shirts and they bought their guns, and they would have parades down the main street and go out to a ball field and practice and of course, if you rode a horse you were higher up in there, you was, those was big landowners. And that got to be a big political arm for him, but it's tied directly to the Citizens Council and segregation. And he built up state-wide notoriety in fact, at one time, I think the airborne unit in Kentucky, I had a friend in it come down here one day whispered to me they'd called him into a meeting they had portfolio on all of us figuring out how to make a drop on Selma. They thought we were having a insurrection and you know, we didn't pay that much attention to it, I mean, it was an honor for a lot of these people to be in the posse.