Carl Sims was born in Bremond, Texas. He moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1927. Not long after migrating to Phoenix, he became a gardener and a painting contractor. Despite having only an eighth grade education, Sims would eventually work for the (Arizona) Maricopa Country Highway Department, and secure a position as Deputy Sheriff of Maricopa County. Sims became very active in Phoenix’s small African American community before and immediately following World War II, and he proved himself to be an adept Democratic agent for progressive political and social change in Arizona.
In 1950 he and attorney Hayzel B. Daniels were the first African Americans elected to the Arizona legislature. In 1951 Sims was one of only 36 black state legislators in the U.S, and Arizona was one of only 15 states that had African American legislators. The only other western states that had black legislators were California (2), Colorado (2) and Washington (1). Sims would serve six terms in Arizona’s House of Representatives. As a lawmaker he called for the improvement and expansion of Arizona’s highways, school taxation equalization, and school integration.