Civil Rights and Social Change

Entries - Entry Category: Civil Rights and Social Change - Starting with K

Kaplan, Philip Edwin

Philip Edwin Kaplan is a noted lawyer living in Little Rock (Pulaski County). As a nationally known attorney focusing on civil and human rights, he helped inmates in the Arkansas prison system fight unjust treatment. He also argued cases against the teaching of creationism in Arkansas’s public schools and in support of a professor who lost his job for being a communist. Philip Kaplan was born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, on January 4, 1938, and grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts, with his parents and one brother. He studied government at Harvard University and graduated in 1959. He graduated from the University of Michigan with an LLB degree in 1962. He was licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts but soon relocated to …

Karlmark, Gloria Cecelia Ray

Gloria Cecelia Ray Karlmark made history as a member of the Little Rock Nine, the nine African-American students who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1957. The world watched as they braved constant intimidation and threats from those who opposed desegregation of the formerly all-white high school. Gloria Ray was born on September 26, 1942, in Little Rock, one of the three children of Harvey C. and Julia Miller Ray. By the time Ray entered Central High, her father was retired from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he had founded the Arkansas Agricultural Extension Service for Negroes, and her mother was a sociologist working for the state of Arkansas. Ray was a fifteen-year-old student at …

Kees, Willie (Lynching of)

On April 29, 1936, a nineteen-year-old African-American man named Willie Kees was shot near Lepanto (Poinsett County) for allegedly attempting to attack a white woman. It was both the first recorded lynching in Poinsett County and the last recorded lynching in Arkansas. On April 18, Kees allegedly attacked the woman on a bridge just outside of town. She screamed, and two men came to her rescue. Kees was turned over to city marshal Jay May and put in jail. That night, May intercepted a mob that was coming to the jail to get Kees and dissuaded the citizens from doing so. He told reporters for the Arkansas Gazette that, because of the darkness, he was unable to identify anyone in the mob. Kees had …

Kirkendall, Mose (Lynching of)

On July 20, 1878, an African American named Mose Kirkendall was hanged in Boone County for allegedly attempting to rape a “Miss Walters,” a young white woman. This was reportedly the first lynching in Boone County. Although there was no Mose Kirkendall recorded as living in Boone County at the time of the 1870 census, there was a thirteen-year-old named Moses Kirkendale living in the household of farmer J. M. Moore and his wife, America, near Searcy (White County). There were other unrelated people living with the family, including fifteen-year-old A. Kirkendale, who may have been Moses’s brother. The alleged victim may have been Martha Walters, who was thirteen years old by the 1870 census and one of six children …

Knights of Labor

The largest American labor organization of its era, the Knights of Labor (KOL) recruited workers across boundaries of gender, race, and skill. The organization claimed more than 700,000 members at its peak in 1886, and actual membership at that time may have surpassed one million. In Arkansas, membership peaked at over 5,000 in 1887, and despite the KOL’s official view of strikes as a measure of last resort, the organization led strikes in Arkansas among railroad workers, coal miners, and African-American farmhands. During the 1890s, the KOL sank into oblivion, but the organization played a pioneering role in both the unionization and political mobilization of workers in factories, mines, and farms. Origins Formed as a secret organization in Philadelphia in …

Kochiyama, Yuri

Yuri Kochiyama, the daughter of Japanese immigrants, was incarcerated during World War II at the Jerome Relocation Center in Arkansas. She later became a human rights activist and was famously photographed cradling the head of Malcolm X following his assassination. Kochiyama was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. Mary Yuriko (Yuri) Nakahara was born on May 19, 1921, in a working-class neighborhood in San Pedro, California, to Japanese immigrants Seiichi Nakahara and Tsuyako Nakahara. She attended San Pedro High School, where she became student body vice president, played on the tennis team, and served as a sports writer for the San Pedro News-Pilot. After graduating from high school in 1939, she attended Compton Junior College. Her community service …

Ku Klux Klan (after 1900)

The original Ku Klux Klan (KKK) formed sometime between 1865 and 1866 in Pulaski, Tennessee. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first acknowledged Klan leader, took actions to disband the organization in 1869. A resurgence in Klan activity occurred starting in 1915, and states such as Arkansas were home to newly forming Klan groups during the 1920s. By 1955, the threat of school integration ushered in a new Klan era even though independent Klan groups were a fixture on the American landscape in some way or another from the 1920s on. One of the first official Klan acts in Arkansas was a donation to the Prescott (Nevada County) Christmas fund in December 1921. Shortly thereafter, other Klan groups formed with the goal …