Entries - Entry Category: Race - Starting with N

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

aka: NAACP
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded on February 12, 1909, and is America’s oldest civil rights organization. The first local branch in Arkansas was established in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on July 4, 1918. The president was John Hamilton McConico, and the fifty founding members included many of the city’s leading African-American figures of the time, including Joseph Albert Booker, Aldridge E. Bush, Chester E. Bush, George William Stanley Ish, Isaac Taylor Gillam, and John Marshall Robinson. The state was the site of one of the national organization’s early court triumphs: In the case of Moore v. Dempsey (1923), NAACP lawyers won a reprieve from the death penalty for six African-American men on the …

Neal, Olly, Jr.

Olly Neal Jr. headed up a community health clinic in Marianna (Lee County) in the 1970s, became the first black district prosecuting attorney in Arkansas, and served as a circuit court judge and on the Arkansas Court of Appeals. Historian Grif Stockley described him as a civil rights activist, political agitator, Arkansas Delta advocate, and a “black devil incarnate to many of Marianna’s whites.” Olly Neal Jr. was born on July 13, 1941, on a farm eleven miles west of Marianna in the rural New Hope community to Ollie Neal and Willie Beatrice Jones Neal. Neal grew up poor in a home with no electricity. His parents impressed upon him and his twelve siblings the importance of education. Neal’s father …

Neely, Amos (Lynching of)

In mid-August 1898, a twenty-three-year-old African-American man named Amos Neely was lynched near Sheridan (Grant County) for an alleged assault on a white woman. The victim of the assault was a “Mrs. Reinhart,” sometimes referred to in newspapers as Rhinehart, Reinhardt, or even Kinehart. Records indicate that there were several Reinharts living in Grant County at the time, and it is impossible to identify her. The lynching victim’s name was reported as Amos Neely, but no trace of him can be found in Grant County records. Neely allegedly committed the assault in April 1898. On April 13, the Arkansas Democrat reported that he had been jailed in Sheridan the previous Saturday (April 9) and that he confessed the following day. …

Negro Boys Industrial School Fire of 1959

aka: Wrightsville Fire of 1959
On March 5, 1959, twenty-one African-American boys burned to death inside a dormitory at an Arkansas reform school in Wrightsville (Pulaski County). The doors were locked from the outside. The fire mysteriously ignited around 4:00 a.m. on a cold, wet morning, following earlier thunderstorms in the same area of rural Pulaski County. The institution was one mile down a dirt road from the mostly black town of Wrightsville, then an unincorporated hamlet thirteen miles south of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Forty-eight children, ages thirteen to seventeen, managed to claw their way to safety by knocking out two of the window screens. Amidst the choking, blinding smoke and heat, four or five boys at a time tried to fight their way …

Nelson, Bud (Lynching of)

Sometime between October 27 and November 1, 1926, Bud Nelson was shot near Tarry (Lincoln County) for the alleged murder of twenty-four-year-old planter Ed Henderson in neighboring Jefferson County. According to accounts published in the Arkansas Gazette and the Cleveland County Herald, Ed Henderson was riding his horse past the house of Ed Young, who was a black tenant on the land of Ed’s father, John H. Henderson. According to the Cleveland County Herald, Ed Henderson was looking for some mules that had strayed. He asked Nelson, who was sitting on a cotton bale across the road from Ed Young’s house, about the mules. The Herald stated that Ed Henderson was a very popular young man “and was always known …

Nelson, Dan T. (Lynching of)

Dan T. Nelson was lynched by a mob of African Americans in Lincoln County on November 13, 1893, for allegedly murdering Ben Betts. Unlike most lynchings in Arkansas (and the United States), several of the perpetrators of this crime were actually tried and sent to jail, perhaps because the mob was composed entirely of African Americans. According to an account published in the Arkansas Gazette, on November 7, Ben Betts, an African American, accompanied a relative to Dan Nelson’s home near Varner (Lincoln County) to help that relative collect a rent bill from Nelson. Betts and Nelson got into an argument, and Betts ordered Nelson out of the house. Nelson emerged from the dwelling, armed with a hatchet and carrying …

Nevada County Race War of 1897

On May 29, 1897, white employees of the Sayre Lumber Company near Prescott (Nevada County) set fire to a cabin where ten of the company’s African-American workers were sleeping. When the black laborers attempted to flee, the mob fired shots at them. No one was killed, and, due to the diligence of a private detective, indictments were actually brought down in the case (although the accused were eventually acquitted). According to the New York Times, “bad blood had existed among the white and colored laborers of the lumbering district of that section for some time past, and frequently efforts have been made by the employees of the Nevada County camps to run the negroes off, but always without avail.” On …

Night Riders

aka: Nightriders
aka: Whitecappers
aka: White Cappers
The term “night riding” is frequently synonymous with “whitecapping” or “bald knobbing,” all terms denoting extralegal acts of violence targeting select groups and carried out by vigilantes under cover of night or disguise. Beginning in the 1900s, cotton farmers throughout Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Missouri were often the targets of night riders seeking to intimidate farmers into selling their crops at higher prices than offered by the big agricultural companies. However, many instances of night riding had racial overtones that hearkened back to the days of the post-Reconstruction Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Cotton men of the state had formed the Arkansas Farmers Union in 1902 and were controlling the market, getting cotton at ridiculously low prices, when cotton prices fell …

Norman, Will (Lynching of)

On June 19, 1913, twenty-one-year-old Will Norman was lynched in Hot Springs (Garland County) for the alleged assault and murder of Garland Huff, the daughter of Judge C. Floyd Huff. In 1910, C. Floyd Huff was living in Hot Springs with his wife, Octavia, and four children: William (thirteen years old), Garland (eleven), C. Floyd Jr. (ten), and Robert E. C. (six). According to some reports, Will Norman had been employed by the Huffs for about two years prior to 1913. Little other information is available regarding him. According to newspaper reports, on June 19, Norman dragged Garland Huff into a closet. When she resisted his advances, he beat her, crushing her skull in five places. He then locked her …

North Little Rock Six

The North Little Rock Six were six African-American students who attempted to desegregate North Little Rock High School on September 9, 1957. Two years earlier, the North Little Rock School Board voted to begin integrating classes at the twelfth-grade level; however, after Arkansas governor Orval E. Faubus publicly stated opposition to the integration of Little Rock Central High School and summoned the Arkansas National Guard to the school on September 2, 1957, the directors of the North Little Rock School Board put a halt to their integration plan. Seven seniors from the all-black Scipio Jones High School initially registered to attend North Little Rock High for the 1957–58 school year, but only six students attempted to enroll. They were Richard …

NYA Camp Bethune

aka: Camp Bethune
National Youth Administration (NYA) Camp Bethune was part of a New Deal program that provided opportunities for literacy and critical advantages for young black women from across the state of Arkansas during the Great Depression. Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal (AM&N) College in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), incorporated the camp site. The camp marked the network of regional and national political activism among African Americans who negotiated community and citizenship in the first half of the twentieth century. The Federal Emergency Relief Appropriation (FERA) Act created the NYA in 1935. The agency funded part-time work for students between the ages of sixteen to twenty-five, as well as worked to promote public …