Early Twentieth Century

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Entry Category: Early Twentieth Century - Starting with K

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 …

Key, Lee (Lynching of)

On May 10, 1901, an African-American man named Lee Key was shot by a masked mob near Knoxville (Johnson County) for allegedly terrorizing other Black residents in the area. Newspaper reports described Key as “obstreperous,” “notorious,” and “troublesome.” According to the Arkansas Democrat, he had been terrorizing other African Americans and “making himself obnoxious in various ways.” He reportedly had shot and wounded another Black man in Knoxville several years earlier, and had served time in the state penitentiary for other crimes. On Friday night, May 10, a group of masked men went to Key’s house and called to him to come out. Key grabbed a shotgun, but before he could fire, a member of the mob shot him with …

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 …