Civil Rights and Social Change

Entries - Entry Category: Civil Rights and Social Change

Aaron v. Cooper

aka: Cooper v. Aaron
Aaron v. Cooper, reversed by the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court as Cooper v. Aaron, was the “other shoe dropping” after Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas declared school segregation unconstitutional but did not lay out any clear guidelines for how to proceed with desegregation. The Supreme Court’s opinion in Cooper v. Aaron sent a message to segregated school districts nationwide that the Supreme Court would not tolerate attempts to evade or obstruct integration. The intervention of the executive branch in sending federal troops to Little Rock (Pulaski County) underscored the supremacy of the federal Constitution over state law and, arguably, added to the Court’s power and prestige. For …

Abortion

Abortion is defined as either a spontaneous early ending of a pregnancy (a.k.a. miscarriage) or an induced early ending of a pregnancy. In Arkansas, amidst changes in abortion’s legal status over the years, women have sought abortions for various reasons, including maternal and fetal health problems, financial concerns, and the stigma of single pregnancy. Early nineteenth-century Americans confirmed pregnancy and the existence of a human life using “quickening,” a term that referred to a woman feeling fetal movements by pregnancy’s fourth or fifth month. Under the American interpretation of the British common law, abortion’s legality depended on whether it occurred before or after quickening. Before quickening, women could legally end their pregnancies using herbs or other methods. Beginning in 1821, the first …

Abrams, Annie Mable McDaniel

Annie Mable McDaniel Abrams is a retired educator and a political, social, civic, and community activist in Little Rock (Pulaski County). She was instrumental in campaigns to rename various Little Rock streets in honor of Daisy Bates and Mayor Charles Bussey. Most notably, she was a leader in the campaign resulting in the renaming of High Street in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and in the institution of Little Rock’s first Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. Annie McDaniel was born on September 25, 1931, in Arkadelphia (Clark County). She is the eldest of four children born to Queen Victoria Annie Katherine Reed. McDaniel’s father died when she was eighteen months old, and she was reared with the help …

Act 10 of 1958 [Affidavit Law]

A special session of the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 10 in 1958 as one of sixteen bills designed to bypass federal desegregation orders stemming from the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School. The measure required state employees to list their political affiliations from the previous five years. Ostensibly, the act would root out subversives and other enemies of the state, but the underlying purpose was to expose National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) members on state payrolls so that they could be fired under Act 115, a law that forbade public employment of NAACP members. Pulaski County senator Artie Gregory designed the measure to root out subversives in the state’s educational institutions, but Governor Orval …

Act 115 of 1958 [Anti-NAACP Law]

In 1959, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 115 as one of sixteen bills designed to bypass federal desegregation orders stemming from the desegregation of Central High School. Act 115 outlawed state employment of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) members. Coupled with Act 10, a law designed to expose NAACP members on state payrolls by requiring state employees to list their political affiliations, Act 115 effectively punished the leaders of the desegregation effort in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Arkansas attorney general Bruce Bennett proposed the bill as part of a package of legislation that would “throw consternation into the ranks” of the NAACP, a group Bennett considered to be subversive. He hoped this package would keep …

Act 151 of 1859

aka: Act to Remove the Free Negroes and Mulattos from the State
aka: Arkansas's Free Negro Expulsion Act of 1859
The Arkansas General Assembly passed a bill in February 1859 that banned the residency of free African-American or mixed-race (“mulatto”) people anywhere within the bounds of the state of Arkansas. In 1846, the Statutes of Arkansas had legally defined mulatto as anyone who had one grandparent who was Negro. Free Negroes were categorized as “black” in the 1850 U.S. Census, so historians have adopted the term “free black” to refer to Negroes or mulattoes who were not enslaved. On February 12, 1859, Governor Elias N. Conway, who had supported removal, signed the bill into law, which required such free black people to leave the state by January 1, 1860, or face sale into slavery for a period of one year. …

Act 258 of 1909

aka: Toney Bill to Prevent Lynching
Act 258 of 1909 was a law intended to prevent citizens from engaging in lynching. It was not, strictly speaking, a piece of anti-lynching legislation, as it imposed no punishment for the crime of lynching. Instead, it aimed to expedite trials relating to particular crimes in order to render what would likely be a death penalty verdict to mollify the local population enough that they would not take the law into their own hands. Such a law as Act 258 is indicative of the connection between lynching and the modern death penalty observed by some scholars; as Michael J. Pfeifer noted in his 2011 book, The Roots of Rough Justice: Origins of American Lynching, legislators across the nation “reshaped the …

Allen, Dorathy N. McDonald

Dorathy N. McDonald Allen was the first woman to serve in the Arkansas Senate. She was elected to fill the unexpired term of her husband, Senator Tom Allen, after his death in 1963. She was reelected in 1966 and 1970 without opposition, serving until January 1975. Dorathy McDonald was born in Helena (Phillips County) on March 10, 1910, to Dora and Jack McDonald. Her father was lumberman and sawmill owner, and her mother was a homemaker; she had four siblings. She was educated in public schools and at Sacred Heart Academy in Helena. Her mother died the same year McDonald graduated from high school. Due to the financial state of her family, college became impossible, so she took a business …

American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas

aka: ACLU of Arkansas
aka: Arkansas ACLU
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas (ACLU of Arkansas) is an affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is devoted to protecting the personal liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights as well as later amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The national organization, which like the Arkansas affiliate is nonprofit and nonpartisan, was formed in 1920. The Arkansas affiliate was organized in 1969 and subsequently established its headquarters in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Both organizations lobby the legislative branches of government on civil liberties issues and supply legal counsel to people who believe their freedoms have been violated by some level of government or by individuals or businesses acting under the protection of government. The state organization also …

American Missionary Association

The American Missionary Association (AMA) was a nondenominational abolitionist society dedicated to providing education and political rights to African Americans. Founded on the premise that denying citizenship to African Americans was a violation of the Declaration of Independence, the AMA sought to find solutions to what was called the “Negro problem” in a divided America. In Arkansas, the AMA focused its efforts on providing education to freedmen and women, seeking to train them to survive in the antebellum South. Although the AMA’s efforts in Arkansas lasted barely a decade, the educational push of the organization persists in several remaining educational institutions. The AMA was founded in Syracuse, New York, in 1846 through the merger of a group of abolitionists who …

Ameringer, Freda Hogan

Freda Hogan Ameringer was a journalist, Socialist Party official, and labor activist in Sebastian County; she moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, during World War I. Her socialism, like that of most other Arkansas party members, emerged out of the Farmers’ Alliance and the Populist movement. She saw socialism as a fight against corporations, banks, and other concentrations of economic power that undermined the rights of the nation’s working people. Freda Hogan was born on November 17, 1892, in Huntington (Sebastian County) to Dan Hogan, who was one of the founders of the state’s Socialist Party, and Charlotte Yowell Hogan, who suffered from physical debilities. Her childhood home, which included three younger siblings, was a gathering place for socialists, feminists, trade unionists, and …

Anthony, Katharine Susan

Katharine Susan Anthony was suffragist, feminist, pacifist, socialist, and author of feminist and psychological biographies of famous women. Born in Arkansas, she lived and worked as a successful author in Greenwich Village, New York, for more than fifty-five years. She lived a life that was quiet, productive, and not within the parameters of what was considered a typical American woman’s experience. Katharine Anthony was born in Roseville (Logan County) in 1877. She was the third of four children born to Ernest Augustus Anthony and Susan Cathey Anthony. When Roseville’s economy declined, the family moved first to Paris (Logan County) and later to Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Anthony attended public schools in Fort Smith and taught elementary school in the same …

Anti-miscegenation Laws

Anti-miscegenation laws were edicts that made it unlawful for African Americans and white people to marry or engage each other in intimate relationships. The measures first appeared in the United States in colonial times and had two functions. First, the laws helped maintain the racial caste system necessary for the expansion of slavery and the idea of white supremacy. If white masters took slave women as lovers and fathered children by them, anti-miscegenation laws ensured that the children remained slaves because the illicit nature of the relationships left biracial children with none of their father’s free status. Second, anti-miscegenation statutes gave white men greater power to control the sexual choices of white women. In the colonial period, white patriarchs used …

Anti-Semitism

Relations between Jews and the rest of the population were generally amicable throughout the South in the nineteenth century, if only because few Jews lived in the region. Although historians point to Abraham Block as the first member of the Jewish faith in Arkansas, when Block arrived in the 1820s, the nearest congregation to his family was in New Orleans, Louisiana—over 400 miles away. The first Jewish congregation in the state of Arkansas, B’Nai Israel in Little Rock (Pulaski County), was not founded until 1866. At this time, out of a state population of more than 450,000, the number of Jews stood at only 400. Most of these arrived to the United States with the great European migration of the …

Appeal of the Arkansas Exiles to Christians throughout the World

The “Appeal of the Arkansas Exiles to Christians throughout the World” was a plea for assistance written by twelve free African Americans expelled from Arkansas after the passage of Act 151 of 1859 (also known as the Act to Remove the Free Negroes and Mulattos from the State or Arkansas’s Free Negro Expulsion Act of 1859). The authors of the appeal left Arkansas on or about January 1, 1860, and arrived, with several others, in Cincinnati, Ohio, on January 3, 1860. The exodus from Arkansas displaced an estimated 800 free blacks from an approximate population of 1,000 who resided in the state prior to 1860. Of the 800 free blacks who were expelled, as many as 200 were believed to …

Argenta Race Riot of 1906

aka: Lynching of Homer G. Blackman
Ignited by the slayings of two black men in separate incidents the previous month, racial animosity flared up in Argenta (now North Little Rock in Pulaski County) in early October 1906, leading to the violent deaths of three more men over four days, including the lynching of Homer G. Blackman, a black restaurateur. Local authorities imposed martial law and provided additional officers in an effort to quell hostilities. However, before order was restored, half a block of commercial buildings on East Washington Avenue burned down, two African-American residences went up in flames, and scores of black families temporarily left the city as armed men roamed the streets. The two major newspapers in Little Rock, the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas …

Arkadelphia Lynching of 1879

aka: Lynching of Daniels Family
In late January 1879, Ben Daniels and two of his sons—who were accused of robbery, arson, and assault—were lynched in Arkadelphia (Clark County). There is some confusion as to the actual date of the lynching. A January 31 report in the Arkansas Gazette said only that it had happened several days previous. The Cincinnati Daily Star reported that it took place on Sunday night, which would have been January 26. The Cincinnati Enquirer, however, reported that the lynching occurred on Friday, January 24. At the time of the 1870 census (nine years before the incident), thirty-three-year-old Benjamin (Ben) Daniels was living in Manchester Township of Clark County with his wife, Betsy, and eight children. His older sons were Charles (thirteen …

Arkansas “Scottsboro” Case

aka: Bubbles Clayton and James X. Caruthers (Trial and Execution of)
aka: Caruthers, James X., and Bubbles Clayton (Trial and Execution of)
The trial and conviction of African-American farm laborers Bubbles Clayton and James X. Caruthers for the rape of a white woman, Virgie Terry, in Mississippi County drew national attention to the Arkansas criminal justice system and became widely known as the Arkansas “Scottsboro” Case. Clayton, age twenty-one, and Caruthers, age nineteen, were arrested at Blytheville (Mississippi County) in January 1935 and charged as suspects in the armed robberies of couples in parked cars. Their arrest followed an incident in which Sheriff Clarence Wilson was injured in an attempted robbery while in a parked car near the Blytheville country club. Taken from the county jail by authorities on pretense of protection from mob violence, the two men were beaten with rubber …

Arkansas Association for the Deaf

The Arkansas Association of the Deaf (AAD) has provided leadership and advocacy on behalf of deaf and hard-of-hearing Arkansans and members of its association since the late nineteenth century. AAD’s efforts have resulted in passage of state legislation and the implementation of new programs and services that have helped enhance the quality of life of deaf and hard-of-hearing Arkansans. AAD is a volunteer 501(c)(3) organization governed by an executive board comprised of elected officers and trustees. The AAD is one of more than fifty state associations of the deaf that are affiliated with the National Association of the Deaf, which is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland. Originally named the Arkansas Deaf-Mute Association, the AAD was established in 1893 by two …

Arkansas Association of Colored Women

aka: Arkansas Association of Colored Women’s and Girls Federated Clubs, Inc.
aka: Arkansas Association of Women’s Clubs, Inc.
aka: Arkansas Association of Women, Youth, and Young Adults Clubs, Inc.
The Arkansas Association of Colored Women (AACW) was organized in 1905. Affiliated with the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), which was founded in 1896, the AACW adopted the national organization’s motto, “Lifting as We Climb,” and was dedicated to improving conditions in African-American communities throughout Arkansas. Its members were middle-class, educated black women from all over Arkansas. Some AACW members also held offices in the national organization. For example, Fort Smith (Sebastian County) resident Mame Josenberger (who was a member of the Phillis Wheatley Club, one of the earliest black women’s clubs in Arkansas, founded in Fort Smith in 1898) was AACW state president from 1929 to 1931 and had served as the NACW’s auditor in the 1920s. The …

Arkansas Black Hall of Fame

The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame was founded in 1992 by Charles O. Stewart and Patricia Y. Goodwin as a means of recognizing the best and brightest African Americans with Arkansas roots. The first induction ceremony was held on October 30, 1993, in the exhibition hall of Robinson Auditorium. Each year, six inductees from diverse fields of endeavor are recognized for their contribution to African-American culture and to the nation. In 1998, seven inductees were selected. Nominations are received from across the country offering recommendation for induction into the hall. The board of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, after a comprehensive review of the submitted nominations, makes the final selection of inductees. Past honorees have included writers, singers, actors, …

Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993

aka: Act 962 of 1993
The Arkansas Civil Rights Act (ACRA) was the first civil rights act in Arkansas covering discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, gender, or the presence of any sensory, physical, or mental disability. The passing of this act, Act 962 of 1993, was the culmination of the work of the Governors’ Task Force on Civil Rights, which was formed in 1991 by Governor Bill Clinton. The legislation was sponsored in the Arkansas Senate by Senator Bill Lewellen. In the early 1990s, most Arkansans reportedly did not feel that it was necessary to have a civil rights bill. However, Arkansas was one of only a few states at the time lacking such a law. Consensus was that the bill was passed …

Arkansas Council on Human Relations (ACHR)

A key facilitator in the desegregation of public schools and businesses in the state, the Arkansas Council on Human Relations (ACHR) was formed in December 1954 out of the reorganization of the board of the Arkansas branch of the grassroots organization, the Southern Regional Council. Initial funding came from a grant, via the Southern Regional Council, from the Ford Foundation, as well as the assistance of Fred K. Darragh Jr., a noted Arkansas agribusiness leader and philanthropist. In the wake of the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision, Nat Griswold, the first director, recognized two basic problems hampering efforts to desegregate Arkansas’s public facilities: white opposition to integration and political disunity among African Americans. The …

Arkansas Fair Housing Commission

The Arkansas Fair Housing Commission was created by Act 1785 of 2001 (as amended in 2003) of the Arkansas General Assembly to provide statewide enforcement of fair housing and fair lending laws. The Arkansas Fair Housing Commission is an enforcement agency that constitutes Arkansas’s sole civil rights regulatory authority. The commission is headed by an executive director and thirteen commissioners who are appointed statewide. The commission regulates unfair practices in real estate–related transactions based on disability, familial status (presence of children under eighteen and pregnant women), religion, sex, race, color, and national origin. As a quasi-judicial agency, with powers akin to a court, the commission may resolve issues through an administrative hearing and may order relief to include damages, attorney …

Arkansas Married Woman’s Property Law

Under the common law that prevailed in all American jurisdictions except Louisiana, once a woman married, all her property passed to her husband. During the nineteenth century, some of the American states began to chip away at what Judge Jno. R. Eakin styled “the old and barbarous common law doctrine.” Arkansas played a leading role in this development; in 1835, Arkansas Territory passed the first law in the nation bestowing on married women the right to keep property in their own names. Two factors influenced the law’s adoption. First, in western areas, men outnumbered women, thus giving the women who were there more power. Second, planters were interested in protecting the bequests made to their daughters from being squandered by …

Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission

The Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission was created by Act 1216 of 1993. It is an offshoot of the Martin Luther King Federal Holiday Commission and was established under Governor Bill Clinton by an executive order to promote the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The purpose of the commission is to promote racial harmony, understanding, community service, respect, and goodwill among citizens, and an awareness and appreciation of the civil rights movement; to advocate the principles and the legacy of Dr. King; and to develop, coordinate, and advise the governor and Arkansas General Assembly of ceremonies and activities throughout the state relating to the observance of Dr. King’s holiday. The commission receives funding from state general revenue, …

Arkansas Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association

The Arkansas Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association (AMDPA) was founded in 1893 by a group of African-American medical professionals. Barred from joining local white medical societies and the American Medical Association (AMA), black medical professionals organized their own local associations and national organization. Trained medical providers began moving into the Arkansas Territory around 1820. In the early 1880s, and in concert with trends in other states, several black physicians organized their own “Colored Medical Association.” These medical professionals were not only interested in the mutual recognition and fraternity offered by the organization; they were also genuinely concerned about the poor state of health among African Americans and the failure of white physicians to adequately address these healthcare needs. In 1893, …

Arkansas Negro Democratic Association (ANDA)

The Arkansas Negro Democratic Association (ANDA) was founded in 1928 by Little Rock (Pulaski County) physician John Marshall Robinson, who served as president until 1952, and a number of other prominent black professionals. Between 1928 and 1952, ANDA was the leading voice of black Arkansas Democrats in the state. Although ANDA tackled a number of issues concerned with racial discrimination, its principal focus was on winning the right for black citizens to participate in the activities of the Arkansas Democratic Party, especially its primary elections. In Arkansas, the payment of a one-dollar poll tax qualified a person to vote, irrespective of race. But exclusion from state Democratic Party primary elections significantly disfranchised black voters since that party dominated state politics. …

Arkansas Pioneer Branch of the National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW)

The Arkansas Pioneer Branch of the National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW) was created to bring together professional women artists, writers, and composers for the protection and sharing of their mutual interests. The Arkansas Branch was the ninth branch to join the National League. The Arkansas Branch, as it was first called, was founded by Bernie Babcock in 1920 with seven charter members. The group’s mission has been identical to that of the National League, which was founded in 1897 in Washington DC, with the purpose of encouraging creative work in art, letters, and music and promoting professional growth of members. The charter of the Arkansas Branch was presented at the first national NLAPW meeting in 1921. Babcock was …

Arkansas Public Policy Panel

The Arkansas Public Policy Panel (APPP) is a statewide nonprofit organization based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The mission of the APPP is to “achieve social and economic justice by organizing citizen groups around the state, educating and supporting them to be more effective and powerful, and linking them with one another in coalitions and networks” and to “bring balance to the public policy process in Arkansas.” The APPP grew out of an organization founded in 1963 as the Little Rock Panel of American Women (PAW). This group of volunteers, organized by Sara Murphy, spoke to community groups, relaying personal stories of the impact of discrimination on their lives in support of racial and religious diversity. As the organization grew, …

Arkansas River Valley Area Council (ARVAC)

When President Lyndon Johnson took office in 1963, he declared war on poverty. The nation’s poverty rate was at nineteen percent. Over the course of his term, he initiated more than 200 bills and ushered in many of the federal programs active today, including the Medicare and Medicaid programs, early Head Start programs, a host of rural and small-business loan programs, and the VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program. One of the most successful of these VISTA programs is the Arkansas River Valley Area Council (ARVAC), an agency continuing to serve a low-income citizens in a nine-county region in rural central Arkansas. The VISTA program was created with the passage of the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act, which also gave …

Arkansas School for the Blind (ASB)

The Arkansas School for the Blind (ASB) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) teaches blind and visually impaired students to become productive citizens. The enriched curriculum, covering birth through age three and pre-kindergarten through the twelfth grade also offers a home-like setting to meet all students’ needs. ASB was founded as the Institute for the Education of the Blind in 1859 by the Reverend Haucke, a blind Baptist minister. Otis Patten was the school’s first official superintendent. The campus was originally located in Arkadelphia (Clark County) but was moved to Little Rock in 1868, which made the school more accessible to students across the state. The first Little Rock campus was located at 1800 Center Street. The institute was renamed the …

Arkansas School for the Deaf (ASD)

The Arkansas School for the Deaf (ASD), located on Markham Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is a publicly funded state agency that provides academic and life skills education for Arkansas students from age three to twenty-one who are deaf or hard of hearing. The school offers both residential and day-school services and includes outreach services to families and public schools. In July 1867, the City of Little Rock opened a school for deaf children. The next year, the state government took over the struggling school, naming it “The Arkansas Deaf Mute Institute.” Ground was broken in August 1869 for a brick building, which was ready for occupancy in February 1870. By 1892, the State School for the Deaf, as …

Arkansas State Capitol, Desegregation of the

In 1964, Ozell Sutton, an African-American man, sought to exercise his right to eat at the Arkansas State Capitol cafeteria. Initially turned away, he later successfully sued in the courts for service without discrimination. The state’s attempt to privatize the cafeteria and thereby avoid desegregation was ruled unlawful. Nonviolent direct action demonstrations by students and a petition from local white clergy helped to speed the case through the courts. On July 15, 1964, Sutton attempted to eat a meal in the Arkansas State Capitol cafeteria in the basement of the building. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which required the desegregation of public accommodations, had become national law just two weeks earlier. However, Sutton was refused service. On July 21, the capitol cafeteria …

Arkansas State Press

The weekly Arkansas State Press newspaper was founded in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1941 by civil rights pioneers Lucious Christopher Bates and Daisy Gatson Bates. Modeled on the Chicago Defender and other Northern, African-American publications of the era—such as The Crisis, a magazine of the National Association of Colored People (NAACP)—the State Press was primarily concerned with advocacy journalism. Articles and editorials about civil rights often ran on the front page. Throughout its existence, the State Press was the largest statewide African-American newspaper in Arkansas. More significantly, its militant stance in favor of civil rights was unique among publications produced in Arkansas. Although in later years, Daisy Bates would be recognized as co-publisher of the paper and, in fact, …

Arkansas State Sovereignty Commission

aka: State Sovereignty Commission
The Arkansas State Sovereignty Commission (ASSC) was created in February 1957 to “protect the sovereignty of Arkansas…from encroachment by the federal government” in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas school desegregation decision and 1955 implementation order. Although given sweeping powers, the ASSC in fact met only twice, proving itself to be merely posturing over rather than actually practicing measures against the federal government. Nevertheless, the creation of the ASSC was an opening salvo in a three-year barrage of pro-segregation laws passed by successive sessions of the Arkansas General Assembly. The ASSC, modeled after the Virginia State Sovereignty Commission, was created by Act 83 of the 1957 Arkansas General Assembly. The act …

Arkansas Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA)

aka: Arkansas Equal Suffrage Central Committee (AESCC)
aka: State Woman's Suffragist Association
The post–Civil War era saw the beginnings of major social change in Arkansas concerning race relations and civil rights, temperance, and voting rights for women. Female leaders from other states, often with legal backgrounds, came to Arkansas to advocate for women’s suffrage. They helped set up organizations such as the Arkansas Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), which was designed to advocate for suffrage in the Arkansas General Assembly, to encourage related organizations and activities, and to attract press coverage. Two different AWSA organizations, one that existed from 1881 to 1885, and another that began in 1914, were instrumental in promoting women’s suffrage in Arkansas. Because of the suffragists’ work in these and companion organizations, in 1918, Arkansas became the first non-suffrage …

Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame

The Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame supports the accomplishments and achievements of Arkansas women through an annual selection process, statewide ceremony, and traveling exhibit. The Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame began in 2015 through a partnership between the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and Arkansas Business Publishing Group of Little Rock (Pulaski County). According to Arkansas News, the chamber’s president and CEO, Terry Hartwick, initiated the partnership and subsequent Hall of Fame after realizing that the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame included mostly men. Both contemporary (living) and historical (deceased) women are eligible for induction, as long as they were born in Arkansas or lived in Arkansas for an extended period of time. According to the criteria for induction, …

Ashley County Lynching of 1857

Prior to the Civil War, most lynchings in Arkansas and across the nation (particularly on the frontier) took the form of vigilante justice, usually to punish white criminals or Southern abolitionists. Although there are newspaper reports of the lynching of four slaves in Saline County, Missouri, in 1859 and reports of a group of slaves accused of fomenting rebellion in North Texas in 1860, slaves were the legal property of their owners. The murder of a slave by someone other than his or her master resulted in a loss of property, which the master presumably wanted to avoid. However, there were instances in which the white community insisted on executing miscreant slaves rather than preserving the owner’s property. There was at least …

Ashley County Lynchings of 1877 and 1884

aka: George Jackson (Lynching of)
aka: Sam Jackson (Lynching of)
Two unrelated African-American men named George Jackson and Sam Jackson were lynched seven years apart (in 1877 and 1884, respectively) in Ashley County for allegedly murdering a white thirteen-year-old girl, Corinne (sometimes given as Corine or Corina) Haynes, in 1877. Little is known of either the young murder victim or her alleged killers. There were two African Americans named George Jackson in Ashley County in 1870. One was an eighteen-year-old domestic servant living in Union Township. This would have made him twenty-five rather than the reported eighteen when the original crime was committed. The other was ten-year-old George Jackson, who was living with his parents Jessy and Marry Jackson and working on a farm. His age would be right, but …

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)

aka: ACORN
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was a nationally known organization that advocated for low- and moderate-income families and communities. ACORN began in Arkansas in 1970, when it was founded by Wade Rathke and Gary Delgado. It filed for bankruptcy and disbanded in 2010. George Wiley of the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO) sent civil rights worker Rathke to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1970, after training him at Syracuse University. From this training, Rathke and Delgado developed ACORN, an organization created to help develop leaders in low-income communities in Arkansas. They were attracted to Arkansas by several features, including the poverty of the state—which in 1970 had a median income under $6,000 and a large welfare-eligible …

Atkins Race War of 1897

  What most newspapers described as the “Atkins Race War” occurred in Lee Township of Pope County in late May and early June 1897. In what appears to have been an unprovoked incident, a group of African Americans attacked two white men, Jesse Nickels and J. R. Hodges, just south of Atkins (Pope County) on May 30. In subsequent encounters, several residents of Lee Township, both white and black, were killed and wounded. Despite the fact that the events in Pope County attracted national attention, the extant newspaper records provide little information regarding the motivations of those who perpetrated the violence. This area of the county, located in rich farmland along the Arkansas River, was populated mostly by farmers. Atkins, …

Atkins, Jerry (Lynching of)

Jerry Atkins, a black man, was murdered in Union County on November 21, 1865, for having allegedly murdered two school-age children. The lynching was notable for the viciousness it exhibited, a brutality that foreshadowed later lynchings in the state and nation, as well as the fact that it was witnessed by federal troops still occupying the state following the Civil War. Little information exists regarding the lynching. According to an account of the event in the Goodspeed history of the area, Atkins waylaid and murdered two siblings on their way to school on November 7, 1865. The two children were Sarah K. Simpson, who was thirteen years old, and Jesse G. Simpson, eight. The diary of George W. Lewis of …

Atkinson, Wash (Lynching of)

On December 6, 1877, an African-American man named Wash Atkinson was hanged by a mob in Arkadelphia (Clark County) for allegedly attacking a white man named H. G. Ridgeway. Ridgeway was probably carpenter H. G. Ridgeway, who at the time of the 1880 census was a fifty-three-year-old widower living in Arkadelphia. On December 1, 1877, Arkadelphia’s Southern Standard published an account of the original crime. According to this report, Ridgeway, acting as “night policeman,” had been patrolling the western part of the city on Saturday, November 24. During that time, he attempted to arrest two African Americans, Wash Atkinson and Ike Smith, for disorderly conduct. While Ridgeway was holding Smith by the arm, Atkinson dropped behind them and hit Ridgeway …

Austin v. The State

Slaves in the United States had no legal rights and only limited access to legal protection, so few legal cases in antebellum Arkansas involved African Americans. Even fewer of those cases were ever reviewed by the Arkansas Supreme Court. However, a case in 1854 established a new principle for Arkansas courts that allowed slave owners to testify in criminal cases involving their own slaves. The murder trial of Austin, a slave in Independence County, was appealed to the state’s high court on several procedural issues, one of which was the denial of his owner’s testimony. The court found that such testimony must be permitted, thus throwing out the circuit court’s decision and ordering a new trial. The event that led …

Back-to-Africa Movement

The Back-to-Africa Movement mobilized thousands of African-American Arkansans who wished to leave the state for the Republic of Liberia in the late 1800s. Approximately 650 emigrants left from Arkansas, more than from any other American state, in the 1880s and 1890s, the last phase of organized group migration of black Americans to Liberia. As early as 1820, black Americans had begun to return to their ancestral homeland through the auspices of the American Colonization Society (ACS), an organization headquartered in Washington DC, which arranged transportation and settlement. The ACS founded the Republic of Liberia in 1847, with its flag and constitution emulating American models, and nearly 13,000 redeemed slaves and free blacks had settled there before the Civil War. With …

Bailey, James (Lynching of)

On July 9, 1891, James Bailey was hanged from a railroad crossing sign in Beebe (White County) for allegedly attacking a white woman. There is very little information available on Bailey. The only African American named James Bailey in White County at the time of the 1880 census was five years old. He was living in West Point Township with his mother, Fannie, and five siblings. If this is the correct James Bailey, he would have been only sixteen years old at the time of the lynching. The alleged victim was a Mrs. Folsom. There was still a Folsom family in Beebe at the time of the 1900 census. Henry Folsom, a forty-five-year-old day laborer, was living with his wife …

Baker, Eugene (Lynching of)

On July 30, 1892, Eugene Baker (sometimes referred to as Dan Baker), who allegedly murdered a white man in Ashley County, was taken from the jail in Monticello (Drew County) by a mob and lynched just outside of town. According to the 1880 census, seven-year-old Eugene Baker was living at that time in White Township, Ashley County, with his parents, Henry and Mary Baker. This would have made him nineteen at the time of the lynching. Baker had five siblings, and both of his parents worked on a farm. Neither could read or write. According to newspaper reports, Baker, an African American, was abused by whitecappers in Ashley County. Whitecappers, also called nightriders, were vigilante bands, usually consisting of poor …

Banks, Alfred

Alfred (Alf) Banks was one of twelve African-American men accused of murder following the Elaine Massacre of 1919. After brief trials, the so-called Elaine Twelve—six who became known as the Moore defendants and six (including Banks) who became known as the Ware defendants—were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Ultimately, the Ware defendants were freed by the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1923; after numerous legal efforts, the Moore defendants were released in 1925. There are conflicting dates as to when Alfred Banks Jr. was born. The 1930 census indicates 1895, his World War I draft registration card shows 1897, and his Missouri death certificate gives 1899. Whatever the year, Banks was born on either August 23 or 24 …

Banks, Isadore (Murder of)

Isadore Banks, a fifty-nine-year-old prominent African-American landowner, disappeared on June 4, 1954. Banks’s wife, Alice, last saw him as he left the house with the intention of paying his farmhands. On or about June 8, 1954, Banks’s truck was discovered in a wooded property just outside of Marion (Crittenden County) by Carl Croom, a neighboring landowner. Banks’s loaded shotgun and coat were still inside. Authorities found Banks’s body tied to a tree, mutilated, and burned beyond recognition. Banks had been drenched with fuel and burned from the knees up. A can of gasoline was found close to the body. The coroner, T. H. McGough, found no sign of robbery or struggle at the scene, indicating that the killing may have …