Entries - Starting with K

Ku Klux Klan (Reconstruction)

The Reconstruction era in Arkansas witnessed the first of many incarnations of the state’s most well-known white supremacist organization, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). In the years after the Civil War, African Americans not only had to struggle to achieve equality under the law, but—along with their white supporters—they had to endure intimidation, whippings, shootings, and murders. Although much of the racial violence was random, it was also during this time that the KKK began its long history of using violence to achieve political ends. The Ku Klux Klan first appeared in Arkansas in April 1868, just a month after African Americans voted in Arkansas elections for the first time. A year earlier, Congress passed the Reconstruction Acts, which put …

KUAF

KUAF began broadcasting as a ten-watt station in January 1973 from a renovated clapboard house on Duncan Street in Fayetteville (Washington County). Owned by the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville, the station began as a student-run operation with a staff of twenty-five students and a faculty advisor, Dennis O’Neal, from the Department of Journalism. The station served as a training ground for students. Planning for the station began the year before its debut. The initial finances were provided by the Associated Student Government and Student Services Allocations. A transmitter was installed on the top of Yocum Hall, and a survey was conducted during registration in fall 1972 to determine what type of music the students most preferred. The most …

Kudzu

Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is an invasive vine characterized by aggressive growth and clusters of grape-scented purple flowers. It was recognized as a weed in 1972 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A native plant of Asia, kudzu has been used for over two millennia in Asian cooking and medicine. Kudzu was introduced to the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition (1876) and to southerners at the New Orleans Exposition (1884–1886). Kudzu’s foothold in the American South is largely the result of the efforts of Charles Pleas, Channing Cope, and the Soil Conservation Service (SCS). Pleas owned Glen Arden Nursery in Chipley, Florida, along with his wife, Lillie. After Pleas discovered kudzu’s usefulness for livestock forage and as a …

Kumpe, Roy Franklin

Roy Franklin Kumpe founded World Services for the Blind. Visually impaired from trachoma—a viral infection that causes cornea scarring—he worked to create educational and employment opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired, both in Arkansas and around the world. Roy Kumpe was born on January 18, 1910, in Ironton (Pulaski County) to Dave and Mary Kumpe. Kumpe was the fourth child; however, two sisters died in infancy between his birth and his older sister’s. The family lived on a forty-acre farm, and Kumpe’s father raised livestock and grew produce that he sold to grocers. After the onset of blindness at the age of eight, Kumpe attended the Arkansas School for the Blind. Declining any financial assistance from his …

Kumpuris, Michael Nicholas (Mike), Jr.

Michael Nicholas (Mike) Kumpuris Jr., a longtime resident of Little Rock (Pulaski County) and later of Bryant (Saline County), worked for forty-one years at St. Vincent Infirmary (now CHI St. Vincent Infirmary) in Little Rock. He was initially given a position as part of the crusade to fight polio in 1952 by the infirmary executive at the time, Sister Margaret Vincent Blandford. In 1954, Kumpuris was asked to create their initial physical therapy clinic, where he was engaged in state government regulations for licensure of Arkansas’s physical therapy practitioners, which was an innovation for the state.  Mike Kumpuris was born on March 26, 1927, in El Dorado (Union County) to Lucille Wright Kumpuris and Michael N. Kumpuris Sr. In 1944, while attending Little Rock Central High School, he played offensive tackle and won all-state honors. His team went on to win the state football championship for Coach …

KUOA

Radio station KUOA started at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and later belonged to John Brown University (JBU) in Siloam Springs (Benton County). These schools used the station to broadcast programs such as educational talks, religious programs, music, local information, and sports. In the twenty-first century, KUOA is an all-sports station nicknamed “Hog Sportsradio.” It is generally considered to be the oldest radio station in Arkansas that is still broadcasting. According to Ray Poindexter in his book Arkansas Airwaves, the UA Department of Engineering began experiments with a wireless telegraph in 1897 and had a wireless station in 1916 licensed with the call letters 5YM. A license for the school’s first commercial AM radio station, KFMQ, …

Kuroda, Paul Kazuo

Paul Kazuo Kuroda, professor of chemistry at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), brought international attention to scientific research in Arkansas by correctly predicting the presence of naturally occurring nuclear reactors nearly twenty years before the first discovery of a reactor of this kind in the Oklo Mines in the Republic of Gabon in west-central Africa. Paul Kuroda was born on April 1, 1917, in Kurogi, Fukoka Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan, the only child of Kanjiro Kuroda—a school teacher, official at the Ministry of Education, and noted calligrapher—and Shige Kuroda. Kuroda earned BS and doctoral degrees in pure chemistry from Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo) in 1939 and 1944, respectively. Upon completion of his doctorate, …

Kurosaki, Ryan

Ryan Yoshimoto Kurosaki, the first American of Japanese descent to play in the major leagues, is a former professional baseball player and firefighter from Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1974, he signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals, making his major league debut on May 20, 1975. He pitched for the Cardinals for one season but spent most of his career with minor league teams, first in Modesto, California, and then with the Arkansas Travelers, the Naranjeros de Hermosillo in Mexico, and the Springfield Redbirds in Springfield, Illinois. In the fall of 1980, Kurosaki retired from baseball and moved to Benton (Saline County). Ryan Yoshimoto Kurosaki was born on July 3, 1952, in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Katsuto Kurosaki and …

KWEM

The landscape of American music was on the brink of change when KWEM began its first broadcast on February 23, 1947. The KXLR-Razorback Network brought its new station and a unique listening experience to West Memphis (Crittenden County), featuring local musicians who played live on the air. The success of live broadcasts on KFFA in nearby Helena (Phillips County) inspired KWEM to incorporate a “pay-to-play” revenue model, in which the opportunity to perform live on its daytime broadcasts was available to anyone able to secure a sponsor or pay a $15 fee. For emerging artists, appearances on KWEM provided exposure within the vibrant West Memphis music scene and ignited the rise to greatness for numerous musical legends, including Ike Turner, …