Ramsey Clark , in full William Ramsey Clark (born December 18, 1927, Dallas, Texas), human rights lawyer and former U.S. attorney general under President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Clark—the son of Tom C. Clark, who served as attorney general under President Harry Truman and later as an associate Supreme Court Justice—followed his father into law and graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1950. He worked briefly in a private practice and then made his way in 1961 to the U.S. Department of Justice during the early days of the Kennedy administration. He soon emerged as one of the Justice Department’s more radical lawyers, often at odds with prevailing opinions on civil rights law enforcement. Employed as assistant attorney general in the lands division from 1961 to 1965, he was one of the few senior department figures to advocate a more active role for the Justice Department in protecting civil rights activists.
With the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the Justice Department under President Lyndon Johnson became much more active in the field of civil rights. Yet, the Justice Department found itself struggling to understand and deal with the civil unrest triggered by the Vietnam War and the perceived slow pace and limited scope of social change. Clark was thrust further into that environment as he became deputy attorney general in 1965, acting attorney general in October 1966, and finally attorney general in March 1967.
Clark won both acclaim and condemnation for his work as attorney general. His delicate balancing act in weighing the interests of the state against individual rights to privacy and protest was not always well received. Indeed, Richard Nixon made him a central issue during the 1968 presidential campaign and promised a new attorney general if he were elected. To address civil unrest, Clark implemented the Community Relations Service and the Office of Law Enforcement Assistance (later replaced by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration)