Entries - Entry Category: Race - Starting with M

Magee, Leach (Lynching of)

On June 4, 1887, an African-American man named Leach Magee (sometimes referred to as Zach Magee) was hanged in Clarendon (Monroe County) for allegedly assaulting a woman named Mrs. J. M. Park, a relative of Sheriff J. W. B. Robinson. Neither Mrs. Park nor Leach Magee appear in any public records for Monroe County. In 1880, a single man named James W. B. Robinson, age twenty-four, was farming in Pine Ridge Township. County records indicate that he was sheriff in Monroe County from 1886 until 1890. He apparently later moved to El Paso, Texas, where he died in 1928. The first account of the alleged assault appeared in the Arkansas Gazette on June 3. It said that, on June 2, …

Malpass, Charles (Lynching of)

On September 27, 1911, a white man named Charles Malpass Sr. was lynched in Desha County following a shootout in which his sons murdered two police officers. According to newspaper accounts, Charles Malpass was a descendent of early French settlers at Arkansas Post. In 1850, the Malpass family was living in nearby Red Fork Township. Farmer Rubin Malpass was living with his wife, Rebecca, and five children, including four-year-old Charles. The family was still in the area in 1860, but by this time there were eight children, among them sixteen-year-old Charles. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Charles began living with a mulatto woman named Bettie West in 1868. West had resources of her own, having inherited several thousand dollars when …

March Against Fear (1969)

aka: Walk Against Fear (1969)
For four days between August 20 and 24, 1969, Lance Watson (alias Sweet Willie Wine), leader of Memphis, Tennessee, black power group the Invaders, led what he called a walk against fear across eastern Arkansas. The walk became an iconic episode in the state’s civil rights history and the stuff of local folklore. The protest inspired an award-winning long-form poem by Arkansas native C. D. Wright, One with Others [a little book of her days], in 2010, a testimony to how long the episode has lingered in the collective memory. Born and raised in Memphis, Watson joined the U.S. Army at seventeen. After receiving a discharge, he fell into a life of crime, which led to two stretches in jail. …

Marion Lynching of 1910

On March 18, 1910, two African-American men, Robert (Bob) Austin and Charles Richardson, were lynched in Marion (Crittenden County) for allegedly assisting in a jailbreak. The victims were taken from jail by a mob and hanged in front of the Crittenden County Courthouse. There is very little known about the two victims. At the time of the 1900 census, Bob Austin was living in Jasper Township with his stepfather, Bennie Ross, and his mother, Henriette. Bennie was a farmer who was renting his farm, and nineteen-year-old Bob was a farm laborer. The men could neither read nor write, although Henriette could do both. Census records provide no information about Charles Richardson. According to the Arkansas Gazette, a jailbreak occurred on …

Markwell, Lulu Alice Boyers

Lulu Markwell was the first Imperial Commander for the national Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK) organization and president of the Arkansas chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Lulu Alice Boyers was born in Corydon, Indiana, on October 1, 1865. She was the only daughter of Benjamin Boyers, who was a carpenter, and his wife, Phoebe Mathes Boyers, who was a housekeeper. Boyers attended Corydon public schools before enrolling in Bryant & Stratton Business College in Louisville, Kentucky (now Sullivan University). The nationwide chain of colleges was prominent during the era, with alumni such as Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller. After she graduated, Boyers’s professional career began in Little Rock (Pulaski County), including four years in …

McClain, Doc (Lynching of)

Doc McClain (whose name is sometimes rendered Dock McLain or McLane) was lynched in Ashdown (Little River County) on May 13, 1910, for allegedly stabbing wealthy young farmer Ernest Hale. According to the 1900 census, farmer Doc McClain (whose age was not given) was living in a rented home in Franklin (Little River County) with his wife Mary (aged thirty) and their two children, Lizzie (seven) and Ezekil (three). They had been married for ten years. Neither Doc nor Mary could read or write. According to numerous accounts, Doc McClain stabbed Ernest Hale in a store sometime in April 1910. Hale survived the attack and was hospitalized. At the time, it was feared that he would die. Local citizens threatened …

McConico, J. H.

aka: John Hamilton McConico
John Hamilton McConico was an African-American educator, newspaper editor and publisher, businessman, national grand auditor for the Mosaic Templars of America, and a civil rights pioneer. His business and civil rights leadership included membership in the National Negro Business League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Arkansas Negro Democratic Association. J. H. McConico was born on December 25, 1877, in Livingston, Alabama, to Jessie McConico, a preacher, and Mattie McConico. His sister, Fannie, was four years his senior. After McConico completed the available public school courses, his family sent him to Agricultural and Mechanical College in Normal, Alabama. In 1898, McConico graduated from the department of printing with a literary emphasis. After graduation, he worked …

McGehee Lynching of 1894

On September 22, 1894, Luke Washington, Richard Washington, and Henry C. Robinson were lynched in McGehee (Desha County) for allegedly murdering local merchant H. C. Patton and robbing his store. One of the interesting aspects of this case is that the African-American population of McGehee (then known as McGehee Junction) reportedly took an active part in the three men’s lynching. On September 20, 1894, Patton locked his store, which was located on the edge of a cotton field some distance from the depot in McGehee, and proceeded along the walkway to his bedroom. There, Robinson and the two Washingtons allegedly killed him with a club. Although Patton was armed with a pistol, he was unable to use it in time. His attackers then …

McIntosh, Robert “Say”

Robert “Say” McIntosh is a restaurant owner, political activist, and community organizer distinctly tied to the Little Rock (Pulaski County) area and Arkansas politics. A political gadfly during the 1980s and 1990s, McIntosh was responsible for many political protests that were statewide news during the time. Say McIntosh was born in 1943 in Osceola (Mississippi County), the fifth of eleven children. In 1949, he and his family moved to the Granite Mountain area of Little Rock. McIntosh attended Horace Mann High School but dropped out in the tenth grade. He spent much of his early life learning the restaurant business, which led him to establish his own eatery, serving home-style cooking and his famous sweet potato pie. “The Sweet Potato …

McIntyre, Samuel (Lynching of)

On April 23, 1919, an African-American man named Sam McIntyre was hanged near Forrest City (St. Francis County) for allegedly murdering another black man, John Johnson, the previous February. According to the February 10, 1919, edition of the Arkansas Gazette, on February 6, Johnson was shot through the window while playing checkers with a friend at his home on the Graham farm. McIntyre was arrested after the killing, along with U. L. “Hub” Lancaster (a white man) and Rube McGee (a black man). According to the report, “Johnson was a witness against Lancaster and McIntyre in several liquor cases, one case of assault to kill and another case charging burglary and grand larceny.” He was to testify when the case …

Mercer, Christopher Columbus, Jr.

Christopher Columbus Mercer Jr. was an advisor to Daisy Bates during the 1957 desegregation of Little Rock Central High School. As field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), his legal background helped Bates understand and respond to the flood of litigation against the NAACP. Christopher Mercer was born Castor Mercer Jr. on March 27, 1924, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), to Castor C. and Tarvell Linda Mercer; his mother soon changed his name. His father worked as a mechanic for the St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) Railroad. His mother owned a dry-cleaning business. He has one brother and one half-brother. Mercer received his AB in social services from Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal College …

Minton, Clifford E.

Clifford E. Minton was a prominent Arkansas-born African American who spent a lifetime dedicated to social services. He is best known in Arkansas for his work with the Urban League of Greater Little Rock (ULGLR), especially with gaining employment for African Americans during the buildup of defense facilities for World War II. Clifford E. Minton was born on July 24, 1911, in Des Arc (Prairie County), the elder of two sons of Frank Minton and Jessie Carter Minton. His father was a skilled machine operator and millwright at the Bowman Hoop Plant. He credits his realization of racial inequality with such early experiences as seeing the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) march by the African Methodist Episcopal Church while he and …

Mitchell v. United States

Mitchell v. United States et al., 313 U.S. 80 (1941), came on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging discriminatory treatment of railroad accommodations for African-American passengers on interstate train coaches passing through Arkansas, where a state law demanded segregation of races but equivalent facilities. The Supreme Court had held in earlier cases that it was adequate under the Fourteenth Amendment for separate privileges to be supplied to differing groups of people as long as they were treated similarly well. Originating in Arkansas in April 1937, the suit worked its way through the regulatory and legal system, finally ending up on the calendar of the Supreme Court in 1941. The circumstances surrounding the matter began after the only African American …

Mitchell, Charles (Lynching of)

On November 2, 1884, Charles Mitchell was murdered near Richmond (Little River County) for the alleged murder of a prominent farmer’s wife, Kate Waddell. The incident made news not only in Arkansas, but also in Texas, the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), and Michigan. At the time of the 1880 census, forty-year-old Charley Mitchell—an African-American or biracial man—was living in Johnson Township of Little River County with his wife, Isabella, and their two sons, William (thirteen) and Mitchel (eleven). The census lists no occupation for Mitchell, but his two sons were working as servants. According to an October 31 article in the Arkansas Gazette, Mrs. Waddell, “an estimable woman,” was murdered on October 29 “by a notorious negro by the name …

Mitchell, Elton (Lynching of)

On June 13, 1918, an African-American farm worker named Elton Mitchell (referred to in some reports as Allen Mitchell) was hanged by a mob in Earle (Crittenden County). Newspaper reports give different dates for Mitchell’s murder, including June 22, June 13, and June 14, but the Pine Bluff Daily Graphic reported on June 14 that the murder took place on Thursday, June 13, so that is the most probable date. Mitchell’s personal history is a bit confusing, with public records placing him in several adjacent counties in northeastern Arkansas and northwestern Mississippi. At the time of the 1900 census there was an Etten Mitchell, age ten, living in Tyronza (Poinsett County) with his parents, Andrew and Parthenia Mitchell, and five …

Mitchell, William Starr (Will)

William Starr Mitchell was a distinguished Arkansas lawyer who emerged as a leader in 1959 during the crisis involving the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School and the subsequent closing of the city’s schools, serving as campaign manager for Stop This Outrageous Purge (STOP). Mitchell was long remembered for his television appearance in the midst of a recall election aimed at ousting segregationists from the school board when he told Governor Orval Faubus: “Governor, leave us alone! Let us return our community to a rule of reason.” Will Mitchell was born on June 5, 1907, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the son of William Starr Mitchell and Frances Emily Roots Mitchell. His father was affiliated with the Democrat Printing …

Monroe County Lynching of 1893

In January 1893, five men were lynched in Monroe County near Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) for allegedly murdering Reuben Atkinson, his housekeeper, and her child, and then torching Atkinson’s house to cover up the crimes. Census and other public records yield no information on either Atkinson or his alleged murderers. According to the Arkansas Gazette, on January 7 a “prosperous farmer” named Rube Atkinson went to sell his cotton. He returned to his farm on January 8, and the following morning neighbors awoke to find that Atkinson’s house had burned down. When they went to inspect, they found three bodies in the ruins, which were later identified as those of Atkinson, his housekeeper, and her child. Authorities arrested several African …

Moore v. Dempsey

The 1923 U.S. Supreme Court decision Moore v. Dempsey changed the nature of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The ruling allowed for federal courts to hear and examine evidence in state criminal cases to ensure that defendants had received due process. The case that resulted in this decision was one of two lawsuits pursued by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the aftermath of the 1919 Elaine Massacre. After short trials, dominated by citizen mobs, twelve African Americans—six who became known as the Moore defendants and six who became known as the Ware defendants—were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Ultimately, the six Ware defendants were freed by the Arkansas …

Moore, Frank

Frank Moore was one of twelve African-American men accused of murder and sentenced to death following the Elaine Massacre of 1919; his name was attached to the U.S. Supreme Court case of Moore v. Dempsey. After brief trials, the so-called Elaine Twelve—six who became known as the Moore defendants and six 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. Born in Gold Dust, Louisiana, in Avoyelles Parish, on May 1, 1888, Frank Moore was the son of sharecroppers James Moore and Mary Philips Moore. In 1917, Moore reported on …

Mosaic Templars of America

The Mosaic Templars of America (MTA), an African American fraternal organization offering mutual aid to the black community, was founded in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1882 and incorporated in 1883 by two former slaves, John Edward Bush and Chester W. Keatts. Taking its name from the biblical character of Moses, the organization offered illness, death, and burial insurance to African Americans at a time when white insurers refused to treat black customers equally. The name metaphorically linked the organization’s services to African Americans and the oppressive conditions of the Jim Crow South to Moses’s leadership during the Israelites’ Exodus from slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. At its peak in the 1920s, the organization had an estimated …

Mosely, Julius (Lynching of)

On July 13, 1892, Julius Mosely, an African-American man accused of raping his stepdaughter, was lynched near Halley (Desha County) by a mob of fellow black residents. While the majority of lynchings in the South were perpetrated by white mobs against blacks, in a very small number of cases, lynchings were carried out either by mixed-race mobs or by mobs of African Americans. William Fitzhugh Brundage speculates that perhaps African Americans doubted that the all-white legal system would deal properly with crimes occurring within the black community. In addition, such lynchings often took place in cases of family-oriented crimes like incest. Interestingly, Brundage finds that such black-on-black violence was most prevalent in the Mississippi Delta regions in Mississippi, Arkansas, and …

Mothers’ League of Central High School

Inferior in numbers and public standing only to its sponsor, the Capital Citizens’ Council (CCC), the Mothers’ League of Central High School was the second most important segregationist organization during the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School. Established in August 1957 by Merrill Taylor, a Little Rock (Pulaski County) salesman, and other members of the CCC to give their opposition to School Superintendent Virgil Blossom’s plan for the gradual integration of Little Rock schools a less strident, more “feminine” edge, the league was an inflammatory influence for two years but was never as combative and potent as its patron. The league combined traditional segregationist enthusiasm for the racial status quo, states’ rights, and anti-miscegenation initiatives with womanly concern for …

Murphy, Sara Alderman

Sara Alderman Murphy was an influential civic activist and educator in Arkansas in the twentieth century. As an adult, the Tennessee native moved with her family to Arkansas at the beginning of the turmoil surrounding the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and became active in the efforts to resolve the city’s often acrimonious school battles. Sara Alderman was born on June 17, 1924, in Wartrace, Tennessee, to David M. Alderman and Sadie Stephens Alderman. She earned a BA in social studies and English from George Peabody College at Vanderbilt University in 1945. The following year, she earned an MS in journalism from Columbia University, where she said she developed a social consciousness about race that …