Poverty

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Entries - Entry Category: Poverty

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 …

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 …

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 …

Becker, Jerome Bill

Jerome Bill Becker served as president of the Arkansas American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) from 1964 to 1996. At the time of his death, Becker was noted as the longest-serving state AFL-CIO president in the United States. J. Bill Becker was born on February 25, 1924, in Chicago, Illinois. His parents, Joseph and Hazel Becker, were Russian immigrants. In 1942, Becker graduated in the upper third of his class from John Marshall High School in Chicago, where he was a standout football player. Becker suffered a knee injury while playing high school football, which initially made him ineligible to serve in the U.S. armed forces during World War II. Instead, he worked at a defense …

Brothers of Freedom

One of several farmers’ organizations formed in Arkansas during the early 1880s, the Brothers of Freedom originated in Johnson County in 1882. Founded by Isaac McCracken and Marion Farris, the organization spread rapidly across northwestern Arkansas, recruiting between 30,000 and 40,000 members within three years. The Brothers of Freedom ceased to exist in 1885 when it merged with another Arkansas-based farmers’ organization, the Agricultural Wheel, and assumed the name of the latter organization. The impact of the Brothers of Freedom lived on, however, not only through the Agricultural Wheel but also through the Union Labor and Populist parties. McCracken and Farris organized the Brothers of Freedom, originally (but only briefly) as a secret organization, in order to enable farmers to …

Callery, Ida Hayman

Ida Hayman Callery was a teacher, suffragist, feminist, and socialist organizer in Arkansas prior to World War I. She traveled extensively as an organizer for the Socialist Party in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Her unwillingness to acknowledge the equality of African Americans, however, served to limit her influence, as she consciously excluded them from her efforts. Ida Hayman was born on October 23, 1886, on a farm near Caldwell in Sumner County, Kansas, the eldest of eight children of William D. Hayman, who was a farmer and businessman, and Emma Belle Burnett Hayman, a homemaker. Hayman worked on the family farm and later worked on behalf of tenant farmers and coal miners. After her father lost money in the declining …

Central Arkansas Development Council

The Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) was developed in direct response to the Economic Opportunity Act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 20, 1964. Part of Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” CADC was created to “alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty” for central Arkansas residents. CADC’s focus is to help low-income individuals and their families become self-sufficient. To that end, CADC provides food, job training, affordable housing, transportation, and financial literacy to low-income individuals and families in central Arkansas. CADC’s Senior Activity Centers provide social activities and meals to people over the age of sixty. In the twenty-first century, CADC’s service area includes twelve Arkansas counties: Montgomery, Pike, Clark, Hot Spring, Dallas, Ouachita, Calhoun, …

Crossett Strike of 1940

The Crossett Strike of 1940 was a fifty-eight-day work stoppage in the lumber and manufacturing town of Crossett (Ashley County). The strike followed a contract dispute between the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (Local No. 2590) and the Crossett Lumber Company. (The Crossett Lumber Company owned all the land, mills, and residential real estate comprising the town of Crossett in the early 1900s.) Picketing and protests were initially peaceful before altercations became more tense and violent as community support for the union waned. The final settlement increased wages for workers but did not address the root causes of the strike—namely, management’s unwillingness to provide preferential treatment to union members or permit a union shop. On June 4, …

Great Southwestern Strike

At its height, the Great Southwestern Strike of 1886 shut down railway lines in five states (Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, and Missouri), threatened to upset commerce nationally, and, with its promise of union recognition, attracted support from a wide spectrum of unskilled and semi-skilled railroaders. Instead of winning union recognition, the strikers met with a terrible defeat that divested hundreds of their jobs, confirmed the power of the state and federal governments to repress labor unrest on the railways, and dealt a severe blow to the Knights of Labor, the nation’s largest labor union. Defeat was not total, however; strikers’ grassroots, cross-racial activism on the railroads contributed to the broader Populist movement in Texas and Arkansas. The Great Southwestern Strike …

Hogan, Dan

Dan Hogan was a socialist activist in Arkansas. A lawyer and journalist, Hogan embodied “witty and intellectual” socialism, and he spent a lifetime pursuing social justice, beginning with the Populists in the 1890s and culminating with the socialist movement in Oklahoma, where he spent his final years. His daughter, journalist and activist Freda Hogan Ameringer, carried on his efforts. Dan Hogan was born in 1871. His father, Daniel Hogan, was a Fort Smith (Sebastian County) machinist who had emigrated from Ireland and then served in the Confederate army, while his mother, Alice Hogan, was an Arkansas native. Hogan’s father abandoned the family, and Alice Hogan was granted a divorce and full custody of their three children in 1885. Dan Hogan …

Homelessness

Large numbers of homeless people live in Arkansas. Looking at data for people who received a funded service, emergency shelter, or transitional shelter from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Arkansas Management Information System found that 22,000 people were homeless at some point during 2006 in Arkansas. A statewide count on January 24, 2007, of people housed in shelters, along with an observational count on the streets and in camps, determined that 7,400 to 8,000 Arkansans are homeless on any given night. The Arkansas Homeless Coalition completed a survey in 2005 among the homeless who congregate under bridges and frequent the soup kitchens in the Little Rock (Pulaski County) area. One hundred survey responses documented that …

Jeffords, Edd

Edd Jeffords was one of the most visible figures in the Arkansas counter-culture movement centered in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) during the 1970s. In addition to organizing—along with Bill O’Neill and a host of others—the Ozark Mountain Folk Fair in 1973, Jeffords founded the Ozark Access Catalog, organized the Conference on Ozark In-Migration, and created the Ozark Institute (OI). Edd Jeffords was born in Rector (Clay County) on November 28, 1945, to Roy and Sylvia Jeffords; he had two sisters. After his father died and his mother fell into poor health, Jeffords moved to Washington State, where he graduated from high school in 1963. From 1963 to 1967, Jeffords served in the U.S. Air Force, working in public information and …

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 …

Landlord-Tenant Laws

Landlord-tenant law is divided into two types: residential and commercial. Because commercial landlord-tenant law is governed mostly by the law of contracts, this discussion is restricted in scope to residential landlord-tenant law. Landlord-tenant relations are regulated generally by state law as opposed to federal, although a few relevant federal laws, most notably the Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968), preempt any conflicting state law. Public and Section 8 housing is also regulated mostly by federal law. About half of the states have enacted the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act, which was adopted by the Uniform Law Commission in 1972. Since then, the uniform law was repeatedly introduced in Arkansas to no avail, but in …

Lightfoot, Claude M.

Claude Lightfoot was an Arkansas-born Communist who became involved in politics after moving to Chicago, Illinois. A frequent candidate for public office in Chicago from the 1930s to the 1950s, Lightfoot represents the impact of the Great Migration out of Arkansas and both the possibilities and limitations of black liberation in northern cities. Claude M. Lightfoot was born on January 19, 1910, in Lake Village (Chicot County). His grandmother, who separated from her husband, acquired a farm of her own and raised her twelve children to adulthood. Shortly after Lightfoot’s birth, his parents moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County), where his father worked for a railroad company and his mother as a domestic worker, while young Claude stayed with his …

Lucie’s Place

Lucie’s Place of Little Rock (Pulaski County) is a nonprofit organization providing support for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) young adults experiencing homelessness in central Arkansas. Lucie’s Place aims to provide housing, resources, case management, and job skills training. Lucie’s Place is the only organization in Arkansas working to support young LGBT people experiencing homelessness. Lucie’s Place was founded by Penelope Poppers. After the death of her friend Lucie Marie Hamilton in 2009, Poppers wanted to start an organization to serve the LGBT community in honor of Hamilton, who was a mentor and advocate to many. In 2011, Poppers—along with Diedra Levi, Mike Lauro, and Karen Thompson (Hamilton’s mother)—planned community meetings, mostly at Boulevard Bread Company on South Main …

National Farmers’ Alliance and Industrial Union of America

aka: Southern Farmers' Alliance
aka: Farmers' Alliance
aka: Arkansas State Farmers’ Alliance
The National Farmers’ Alliance and Industrial Union, more commonly known as the Southern Farmers’ Alliance (or simply the Alliance), began in the mid-to-late 1870s. The organization began spreading eastward through Arkansas and beyond in 1887. By the summer of 1890, it had expanded beyond the South and reported a membership of more than 1,200,000 in twenty-seven states. The Southern Farmers’ Alliance ran cooperative enterprises for its members and put forth a political platform. The group subsequently became active in the third-party movement that culminated in the formation of the People’s (or Populist) Party in 1891–92. Origins and GrowthFarmers and stockmen formed the Southern Farmers’ Alliance in Lampasas County, Texas, as early as 1874 or as late as 1877, according to …

National Grange of the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry

aka: The Grange
aka: Arkansas State Grange
aka: Patrons of Husbandry
In December 1867, Oliver Hudson Kelley, a former clerk in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and six other men founded the National Grange of the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry in Washington DC. Intended as an organization that would unite farmers for the advancement of their common interests, the Grange claimed more than 760,000 members across the United States by 1875. The Grange entered Arkansas in 1872 and remained active in the state for about two decades. By then, the Grange had given way to larger farmers’ organizations in Arkansas such as the Agricultural Wheel and the Farmers’ Alliance. The National Grange still exists in the twenty-first century, but it has no chapters in Arkansas. Origins, Growth, and PurposesJohn …

Noble, Marion Monden

Marion Monden Noble was an Arkansas-born lifelong communist who is one of three Arkansans known to have served with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War (the others being pilot Frank Glasgow Tinker and composer Conlon Nancarrow). Marion Noble was born on May 4, 1911, in Garner (White County), one of six children of Isom J. Noble and Cora Noble. His father was a railroad worker known for treating both black and white workers equally, but he lost his job along with thousands of others during a railroad strike. By 1920, the family was living in Higginson (White County), where his father started a car repair business. Noble worked there as a mechanic before leaving to attend the …

Ozark Institute [Organization]

From 1976 until its end in 1983, the Ozark Institute (OI) created job programs, provided advocacy for a dwindling population of small farmers, and worked to create community organizations and institutions to help alleviate some of the hardships of rural life. Toward these aims, the OI partnered with the Office of Human Concern in Benton County, led by Bill Brown, a longtime resident of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). The OI created a host of entities and programs to aid the Ozarks region in its short life, including community canneries, the publication Uncertain Harvest, seed banks, job training programs, and the Eureka Springs radio station KESP. The roots of the OI can be traced to the Conference on Ozark In-Migration in …

Pellagra

Pellagra is a form of malnutrition caused by a severe deficiency of niacin (also known as nicotinic acid or vitamin B3) in the diet. The disease affected thousands of Arkansans and other Southerners in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Symptoms of pellagra can include lack of energy, outbreaks of red splotches on the skin, diarrhea, and—in extreme cases—depression, dementia, and even death. Pellagra is not contagious, and the condition can be reversed. The lethargic appearance of pellagra victims was also a symptom of two other diseases widely found in the South at the time, hookworm and malaria. These three contributed to the false stereotype of Southerners at this time as lazy. Pellagra was first recognized as a disease in 1762 …

Poorhouses

aka: Poor Farms
The use of the poorhouse came to the United States during the nineteenth century and was based on a model used in England during the Industrial Revolution. A poorhouse was meant to be a place to which people could be sent if they were not able to support themselves financially. It was believed that these institutions would be a cheaper alternative to the “outdoor relief” (relief requested from a community) that a community sometimes provided. Although this may not have been the case, the poorhouse was a significant institution in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, providing relief to the poor prior to the establishment of welfare systems. The aiding of a pauper by another person in the community was …

Poverty

In 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the national average of individuals living in poverty was 13.2 percent. At 17.3 percent, Arkansas tied for second among states with the highest poverty rates. The two states with the highest poverty rates are adjacent to Arkansas: Mississippi was the highest with 21.2 percent, and Louisiana second highest at 17.3 percent. They were followed by West Virginia at 17 percent and Kentucky, which tied Arkansas with 17.3 percent. Seven of the top ten impoverished states were in the South. Historical BackgroundThe story of poverty in the South is the story of economic development and social changes over time. Patterns of poverty in Arkansas have developed and fluctuated over time in relation to …

Rathke, Wade

Wade Rathke is a longtime community organizer and the founder of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). He was living in Arkansas when he started an organization that would evolve in 1970 into ACORN. His efforts to achieve social justice were highlighted in a 2017 documentary film titled The Organizer. Stephen Wade Rathke was born on August 5, 1948, in Laramie, Wyoming, to Edmann J. Rathke and Cornelia Ratliff Rathke. He was raised in Colorado and New Orleans, Louisiana, and graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans in 1966. He then headed to Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, which he attended from 1966 to 1968. Dropping out of Williams in 1968, Rathke began his organizing …

Sebastian County Union War of 1914

The Sebastian County Union War of 1914 is one of the major instances of labor contention and violence in the state of Arkansas. Growing out of a mining operator’s attempt to save his badly run company by eliminating union labor, it resulted in murder, the destruction of property, and a lawsuit that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sebastian County was one of the centers of the state’s coal-mining industry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, producing over 1.5 million tons of coal in 1913. Parallel to the strength of the industry was the strength of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), a union of which every miner in the state was a member. …

Smith, Odell

Odell Smith was the state’s foremost trade union leader in the middle of the twentieth century, serving at various times as president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 878, the Little Rock Central Trades Council, the Arkansas State Federation of Labor, and the Arkansas AFL-CIO. Along with his close associates Henry Woods and Sidney McMath, Smith was one of the architects of liberalism in post–World War II Arkansas. They put together a coalition that promoted high wages and consumption, generous social provision, access to educational opportunity, racial equality, and the idea that strong governments are essential for regulating capitalist enterprises. Odell Smith was born in 1904 in Jackson, Tennessee, where his father worked as a railroad machinist. The exact date …

Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union

The Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union (STFU) was a federation of tenant farmers formed in July 1934 in Poinsett County with the immediate aim of reforming the crop-sharing system of sharecropping and tenant farming. The facts that the STFU was integrated, that women played a critical role in its organization and administration, and that fundamentalist church rituals and regional folkways were basic to the union’s operation dramatically foreshadowed the post-war civil rights era. A series of natural disasters in the late 1920s and early 1930s, plus the unique circumstances present in Poinsett County, led to the formation of the STFU. The Flood of 1927 revealed the desperate plight of the Delta cropper to the outside world, sparking the interest of unionists …

State of Arkansas v. Artoria Smith

aka: Arkansas v. Smith (2015)
State of Arkansas v. Artoria Smith is a decision of the Pulaski County Circuit Court written by Judge Herbert T. Wright Jr. and filed on January 20, 2015. The decision declared unconstitutional Arkansas’s failure-to-vacate statute—a statute that criminalizes failure to pay rent while remaining on the premises (an act that no other state criminalizes). Three other circuit courts in Arkansas followed suit in declaring the statute unconstitutional. The parties in Arkansas v. Smith stipulated to several facts. Smith and her landlord, Primo Novero, had a lease agreement in 2014. On July 9, 2014, Novero gave Smith ten days’ notice under Arkansas’s failure-to-vacate statute, claiming she had breached the lease. Under the statute, a tenant who remains on the premises more …

Tate Plantation Strike of 1886

In 1886, the Knights of Labor engaged in two strikes in Arkansas. The first of these strikes, the Great Southwestern Strike, involved railroad workers from Texas to Illinois. It began in March and ended in failure by May. The second strike occurred in July at the Tate Plantation in Young Township of Pulaski County, nine miles south of Little Rock (Pulaski County) on the Arkansas River. While this strike also proved unsuccessful, and much briefer, it remains significant because all of the strikers were African Americans, and it foretold efforts at black farm labor activism that would continue in Arkansas well into the twentieth century. Formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1869, the Knights of Labor spread across the nation during …

Tomson, Dan Fraser

A native of Tennessee, Dan Fraser Tomson helped organize—and was a charter member of—the first local assembly (or lodge) of the Knights of Labor in Arkansas. He also served as a state organizer and lecturer and, eventually, as the Knights’ highest-ranking state officer. In addition, he edited a weekly newspaper, the Industrial Liberator, which served as the official organ of the Arkansas Knights of Labor, and he became a significant figure in the national Knights of Labor organization. He served in a variety of military- and government-related jobs throughout his life, including as a clerk in Washington DC, copying the Civil War records of Missouri soldiers; a staff member in the Missouri Senate; and a clerk in the Missouri adjutant …

Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA)

aka: VISTA
Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) is a national welfare program begun in 1965. The volunteers were recruited from all over the country and sent to help people in poverty-stricken areas, including Arkansas. Some of the first areas to receive assistance were Yell County and Texarkana (Miller County). Not only did volunteers help many Arkansans, the written accounts from the time they spent in Arkansas are of great historical value because they describe many details of the rural Arkansas culture of the twentieth century. The program was begun during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency with the “War on Poverty.” The VISTA program was included in the larger program, the Office of Economic Opportunity, originally called National Service Corps. VISTA was described as …

Williams, Claude Clossey

Claude Clossey Williams was a Presbyterian minister and human rights activist who was long involved in the civil rights movement. In addition, he was an active labor organizer and served as national vice president of the American Federation of Teachers. Claude Clossey Williams was born on June 16, 1895, in Weakley County, Tennessee, to Jess Williams and Minnie Bell Galey Williams. His parents were tenant farmers and sharecroppers who were members of the fundamentalist Cumberland Presbyterian Church. In 1910, he left his family and moved in with cousins, working on their farm. During the winters, he worked as a railroad laborer, carpentry assistant, and painter. He also heaved coal for Mississippi River steamboats. In 1916, with the United States on …