Entry Category: Race - Starting with J

Jackson, Gertrude Newsome

Gertrude Newsome Jackson was a local activist in the Marvell (Phillips County) area who, along with her husband, Earlis, played a central role in the local civil rights movement. She was widely recognized for her long-term efforts on behalf of the community’s young people and its minority members. Gertrude Newsome was born on November 7, 1923, in Madison, Illinois, to Mitchell and Lillie Newsome. When she was seven, her paternal grandfather died, and the family moved to Gum Bottom, an area in Phillips County, Arkansas, near the Turner community, so that her father could help operate the family’s small Arkansas Delta farm. One of eleven children—six boys and five girls—she got her early education in Marvell, walking miles to a …

James, Henry (Lynching of)

On May 14, 1892, Henry James was lynched in Little Rock (Pulaski County) for an alleged assault on five-year-old Maggie Doxey. According to the Arkansas Gazette, it was the first time in twenty years that “Little Rock [had] witnessed a mob or an attempt at enforcing mob law in this city.” James, described in some newspapers as a twenty-two-year-old “mulatto,” was originally from Augusta, Maine, but had moved south three years earlier. He worked for a time as a waiter in Hot Springs (Garland County), but for the two weeks prior to his murder, he had been working for the family of Charles Johnson in Little Rock. According to the Arkansas Gazette, the family found him to be “a faithful …

Jameson, Jordan (Lynching of)

Jordan Jameson, an African-American man, was burned to death on November 11, 1919, on the town square in Magnolia (Columbia County) for having allegedly murdered the local sheriff. Only a handful of lynchings in Arkansas were carried out by means of burning the victim while alive, most notably the 1892 lynching of Ed Coy in Texarkana (Miller County), the 1919 lynching of Frank Livingston near El Dorado (Union County), and the 1921 lynching of Henry Lowery in Mississippi County. At the time of the lynching, Jameson was described in newspaper reports as fifty years old and living four miles west of Magnolia. The 1880 census records a Jourdan Jameson, born about 1872 and living in Magnolia at the time, while …

Japanese American Relocation Camps

After Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, and America’s subsequent declaration of war and entry into World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the War Relocation Authority (WRA), which selected ten sites to incarcerate more than 110,000 Japanese Americans (sixty-four percent of whom were American citizens). They had been forcibly removed from the West Coast, where over eighty percent of Japanese Americans lived. Two camps were selected and built in the Arkansas Delta, one at Rohwer in Desha County and the other at Jerome in sections of Chicot and Drew counties. Operating from October 1942 to November 1945, both camps eventually incarcerated nearly 16,000 Japanese Americans. This was the largest influx and incarceration of …

Jeannette, Gertrude Hadley

Throughout her career, Gertrude Hadley Jeannette was a playwright, producer, director, and actress with roles on Broadway. Involved in the civil rights movement, she also became a rare woman taxicab driver in New York. Retired after a seven-decade theater career, she remained active in the New York theater scene. Jeannette was a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Gertrude Hadley was born in Urbana (Union County) on November 28, 1914, to Willis Lawrence Hadley and Salley Gertrude Crawford Hadley. She attended Dunbar High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and had plans to attend Fisk University. Instead, she eloped in 1934 to New York City with Joe Jeannette II, a prizefighter and president of the Harlem Dusters, a motorcycle club. …

Jefferies, Oscar (Lynching of)

In 1887, a black teacher named Oscar Jefferies from Brownstown (Sevier County) was shot to death by a group of men because he eloped with Ina W. Jones, the daughter of a wealthy white farmer. According to newspaper accounts, Oscar Jefferies, “a fine looking colored man,” arrived in Brownstown from Oswego, New York, in June 1887 to take over the “colored academy.” After his arrival, he paid considerable attention to Ina Jones, who was described as the daughter of “one of the largest plantation owners in the counties.” She welcomed his attentions, and despite her parents’ threats, in late September, she told her friends that she was going to marry Jefferies the following Sunday, October 2. When her parents heard …

Jetton, White (Lynching of)

In late December 1904, an African-American teenager named White Jetton was hanged near Spring Hill (Hempstead County) for allegedly attacking a white farmer named Nobbs. A search of public records revealed no information about either Jetton or Nobbs. A report in the Arkansas Gazette on January 3, 1905, said only that the lynching occurred “several days ago.” The report indicates that two African Americans, one of whom was Jetton, attacked a farmer named Nobbs near Spring Hill, ten miles south of Hope (Hempstead County), in a dispute over money they maintained Nobbs owed them. Jetton was described as being “less than 18 years of age.” According to the Gazette, Nobbs was wounded in the face and head, but not seriously. …

Jim Crow Laws

Jim Crow laws were statutes passed in most of the Southern states between the 1880s and 1960s that separated the races and created a segregated society. Exactly why these laws were implemented at this time is unclear, although scholars believe that they may have been a response to the breakdown of traditional barriers between black and white people in the post-Reconstruction era. This breakdown was made possible by expansion of the South’s railroads, development of urban areas and industrial workplaces, and the progress African Americans made economically during this period. Whatever the reason for the timing of their passage, these laws reflected prevalent anti-black racism and the views of contemporary whites, who asserted that African Americans represented an inferior and …

Jimerson, Aaron (Lynching of)

On August 8, 1917, an African-American man named Aaron Jimerson was lynched at Foreman (Little River County) for an alleged attack on a local constable. Jimerson, who was born in 1887, married eighteen-year-old Virginia Hooks at Foreman in 1914. According to the Arkansas Democrat, Constable Sam Anderson arrested Jimerson on August 8 for shooting at another African American. As Anderson was opening the jail door to put Jimerson into a cell, Jimerson grabbed him and stole his pistol. Anderson retrieved the gun, but before he could use it, Jimerson hit him with a wooden stick. Jimerson then escaped but was soon recaptured by a posse led by Sheriff W. D. Waldron. He was placed in jail, but a mob broke …

Johnson, James Douglas “Justice Jim”

James Douglas “Justice Jim” Johnson served as an Arkansas state senator and an associate justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court in the 1950s and 1960s. He was an outspoken segregationist and ran unsuccessfully against Orval Faubus for governor in 1956. In the 1966 race for Arkansas governor, he became the first Democrat since Reconstruction to lose to a Republican. Johnson helped to make school desegregation a major political issue in the state by protesting the integration of the Hoxie School District in Hoxie (Lawrence County), as well as by working to get an anti-federalist amendment added to the state constitution. Jim Johnson was born on August 20, 1924, in Crossett (Ashley County) to T. W. Johnson and Myrtle Long Johnson, …

Johnston, Lewis Harrison (L. H.)

Lewis Harrison Johnston was a physician, surgeon, and wealthy businessman. He was a member of the Negro Business League and the State Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association of Oklahoma. He and his three brothers were killed by a posse in 1919 during the Elaine Massacre. Lewis Harrison Johnston, known as L. H., was born on July 4, probably in 1880, in either Arkansas or Ruston, Louisiana, to Lewis Johnston Jr. and Mercy Ann Taborn Johnston. In the 1880 census, Johnston was living in Vaugine Township in Jefferson County with his parents and siblings. His place of birth was listed as Arkansas, and his age was listed as one. In 1900, Johnston was listed as living in Ward 3 in Pine …

Jones, Edith Irby

Edith Irby Jones was the first African American to attend and to graduate from the University of Arkansas Medical School, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Not only was she a pioneer in the desegregation of higher education in Arkansas and the South, but she also served as a highly successful doctor, educator, and philanthropist in Arkansas, Texas, and overseas. Edith Irby was born on December 23, 1927, near Conway (Faulkner County) to Robert Irby, a sharecropper, and Mattie Buice Irby, a maid. Her father died when she was eight, and the family moved to Hot Springs (Garland County). Irby’s older sister died of typhoid fever at the age of twelve, largely …

Jones, Fred Thomas

Fred Thomas Jones Sr. was a physician and pioneer in providing insurance and medical care to African Americans in Arkansas and Louisiana. Fred T. Jones was born on September 8, 1877, in Homer, Louisiana, the oldest of eleven children born to Fred R. Jones, a farmer, and Harriett E. Jones, a housewife. In 1904, Jones married Hattie McGraw. The couple had a daughter but divorced soon after. Three years later, in 1907, he married Katie Chandler. They had seven children—five daughters and two sons. After attending Claiborne Parish School at Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, and the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, Jones graduated from Arkansas Branch Normal College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) between 1900 and 1904, …

Jones, Henry (Lynching of)

On June 23, 1891, an African-American man named Henry Jones, accused of murdering his wife, was hanged by a mob near Hamburg (Ashley County). The victim may have been a thirty-seven-year-old African American named Henry Jones, who in 1880 was twenty-six and living in Ashley County’s De Bastrop Township with his wife, Eliza, age eighteen, and children Jane (age five) and William (age one). Although newspaper accounts indicate that Jones’s wife’s name was Lucy, this may be an error in reporting. On June 18, the Arkansas Democrat published a report on Jones’s alleged crime. According to the Democrat, Jones told authorities that after cooking breakfast on the morning of June 11, his wife went out to get one of their …

Jones, Judge (Lynching of)

On March 25, 1910, a twenty-six-year-old African-American man named Judge Jones was hanged from a water tank in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) for allegedly harassing a young white woman. In both 1908 and 1910, the Pine Bluff city directory lists a man named Judge O. Jones living at 603 East 15th Avenue and working as a driver. This agrees with newspaper accounts stating that Jones had formerly worked as a driver for the Marx-Baer Grocery Company. According to the March 26, 1910, Pine Bluff Daily Graphic, Jones was arrested on Friday morning, March 25, for loitering around the home of Mrs. Mueller in the outskirts of Pine Bluff and demanding to see her daughter. He had apparently been in trouble …

Jones, Scipio Africanus

Scipio Africanus Jones was a prominent Little Rock (Pulaski County) attorney and one of the city’s leading African-American citizens at the end of the nineteenth century and during the first decades of the twentieth century. Jones is most significantly remembered for his role defending twelve men sentenced to death following the Elaine Massacre of 1919. He is also remembered for his role in the Republican Party at a time when many Arkansas Republicans were trying to restrict membership in the party to whites only. Scipio Jones was born to a slave, Jemmima Jones, in 1863 in the area of Tulip (Dallas County). His father is generally considered to be Dr. Sanford Reamey, a prominent citizen of Tulip and the owner …

Jonesboro Lynching of 1881

aka: Greensboro Lynching of 1881
In March 1881, Martha (Mattie) Ishmael, the teenage daughter of planter Benjamin Russell Ishmael, was brutally murdered in the family’s home near Jonesboro (Craighead County). Four African Americans were accused of the murder and were bound over to the grand jury, but before they could be tried, they were lynched by a mob of masked men. Benjamin Ishmael was born in Tennessee, but by the middle of the 1830s, he and his parents had settled in Arkansas in Greensboro (Craighead County), eleven miles east of Jonesboro. Greensboro, then located in Greene County, was settled around 1835, and was mostly occupied by small farmers. It was not until the late nineteenth century that the lush forests of the area would give rise …

Jordan, Bob (Lynching of)

In August 1892, an African-American man named Bob Jordan was shot by members of a mob near Camden (Ouachita County) for allegedly insulting a white woman. According to the Arkansas Gazette, a Constable Wright had arrested Jordan and was en route to Camden with his prisoner on the night of August 8. Along the way, six miles from town, a group of masked men intercepted them. The men told the constable to leave and then shot Jordan. The incident was reported in a number of newspapers across the country, with the Postville, Iowa, Graphic reporting that Jordan had attempted to assault a woman. Historian Kenneth C. Barnes, in his book Journey of Hope, noted that the incident was indicative of …

Jordan, Lena Lowe

Lena Lowe Jordan was an African-American registered nurse and hospital administrator who managed two institutions for African Americans—a hospital for the care of crippled children, which later became a general hospital. In addition, she began a unique training program for young black women who wanted to become practical nurses. Lena Lowe was born on April 6, 1884, in Georgia, to Hollin and Martha Lowe. She spent her childhood in Georgia and then trained as a nurse at the Charity Hospital of Savannah. She moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) from Cordele, Georgia, in the 1920s and began her career as a registered nurse in Arkansas as head nurse at the Mosaic State Templars Hospital in 1927. In 1920, she became …

Josenberger, Mame Stewart

Businesswoman and activist Mame Stewart Josenberger started her career as an educator but, after her husband’s death, assumed control of a variety of businesses. She also served as president of the Arkansas Association of Colored Women and was on the advisory board of The Crisis, the renowned publication of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), in addition to involvement with a variety of local, state, and national organizations. Mame Stewart was born on August 3, 1872 (although some sources say 1868), in Owego, New York, to Virginia natives Frank Stewart and Mary Elizabeth Turner Stewart. After attending the Owego Free Academy in New York, Stewart earned a BA in education at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, …