Charles Jackson Clark, African-American undertaker and funeral home director in Dallas, son of George and Annie (Orr) Clark, was born in Sherman, Texas, on August 15, 1900. Clark spent his childhood in Sherman but moved to Dallas as a teenager to pursue the undertaking trade. He attended the Crawford Gunter Embalming School and accepted a job at the Crawford Undertaking Company in Dallas. In 1920, while finishing his embalming training, Clark was also employed by Sears, Roebuck and Co. In 1924 Clark was hired at the Dallas Coffin Company but also worked part-time with his uncle, Samuel Black, who had opened S. C. Black Undertaking in Oak Cliff in 1914.
Clark continued to split his time at Dallas Coffin Company and his uncle’s company for nearly eleven years before leaving in 1935 to join his uncle as a full-time partner. They formed Black & Clark Funeral Home, which still stood in 2012 at 1802 N. Washington. Samuel Black died in 1939, and in 1945 Clark purchased his uncle’s share of the business from his widow in order to become the sole proprietor of Black & Clark Funeral Home. Under Clark’s watchful eye, the business thrived. Black & Clark soon became Dallas’s leading African-American funeral home, enabling Clark to build a new modern facility at 2517 E. Illinois Avenue in 1968.
Clark married Beulah Beatrice Jackson, daughter of Ike and Mattie (Tolbert) Jackson, on November 15, 1920. The couple had one son, Otis Clark, who joined the family business in 1948. C. Jack Clark and his son Otis were joined by Otis’s son, Gary Clark, in 1978. Otis became the manager in 1982 until his own death in 1999. In 2006 ownership of Black & Clark was transferred to a team of owners, which included Gary Clark.
In addition to his role at the funeral home, Clark served on the “Committee of 14,” a collection of seven White and seven Black Dallas leaders formed in 1960 with the purpose of facilitating a smooth desegregation process of the city. Serving alongside other African-American leaders such as A. Maceo Smith and William J. Durham, as well as some of Dallas’s most prominent White businessmen such as Karl Hoblitzelle and C. A. Tatum, Clark helped guide a nervous city’s first steps in the desegregation process. In 1961 the Committee of 14 was able to strike a series of compromises, with businesses agreeing to cease discriminatory practices in order to avert planned demonstrations.
C. Jack Clark died on October 23, 1983, in Dallas. His wife, Beulah, joined him two years later on October 26, 1985, and both are now buried at Carver Memorial Park in Dallas. C. Jack Clark served the Dallas African-American community during the segregation era and passed on a thriving business to his family, while his civic activities helped improve race relations in the city.