Entry Category: Race - Starting with A

Arkansas State Sovereignty Commission

aka: State Sovereignty Commission
The Arkansas State Sovereignty Commission (ASSC) was created in February 1957 to “protect the sovereignty of Arkansas…from encroachment by the federal government” in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas school desegregation decision and 1955 implementation order. Although given sweeping powers, the ASSC in fact met only twice, proving itself to be merely posturing over rather than actually practicing measures against the federal government. Nevertheless, the creation of the ASSC was an opening salvo in a three-year barrage of pro-segregation laws passed by successive sessions of the Arkansas General Assembly. The ASSC, modeled after the Virginia State Sovereignty Commission, was created by Act 83 of the 1957 Arkansas General Assembly. The act …

Ashley County Lynching of 1857

Prior to the Civil War, most lynchings in Arkansas and across the nation (particularly on the frontier) took the form of vigilante justice, usually to punish white criminals or Southern abolitionists. Although there are newspaper reports of the lynching of four slaves in Saline County, Missouri, in 1859 and reports of a group of slaves accused of fomenting rebellion in North Texas in 1860, slaves were the legal property of their owners. The murder of a slave by someone other than his or her master resulted in a loss of property, which the master presumably wanted to avoid. However, there were instances in which the white community insisted on executing miscreant slaves rather than preserving the owner’s property. There was at least …

Ashley County Lynchings of 1877 and 1884

aka: George Jackson (Lynching of)
aka: Sam Jackson (Lynching of)
Two unrelated African-American men named George Jackson and Sam Jackson were lynched seven years apart (in 1877 and 1884, respectively) in Ashley County for allegedly murdering a white thirteen-year-old girl, Corinne (sometimes given as Corine or Corina) Haynes, in 1877. Little is known of either the young murder victim or her alleged killers. There were two African Americans named George Jackson in Ashley County in 1870. One was an eighteen-year-old domestic servant living in Union Township. This would have made him twenty-five rather than the reported eighteen when the original crime was committed. The other was ten-year-old George Jackson, who was living with his parents Jessy and Marry Jackson and working on a farm. His age would be right, but …

Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching

In 1930, Texas suffragist and civil rights activist Jessie Daniel Ames and a group of white women in the South founded the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching (ASWPL). The ASWPL’s primary objective was to use white women’s moral and social leverage to educate and persuade southern whites to end the practice of lynching in rural communities. Ames—who was also a member of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation (CIC), which was founded in 1919, and its Director of Women’s Work—sought to create a unique, independent network of organizations for middle-class white Christian women. ASWPL founders were not interested in creating another typical women’s organization, and they rejected federal intervention to end lynching as an affront to states’ …

Atkins Race War of 1897

  What most newspapers described as the “Atkins Race War” occurred in Lee Township of Pope County in late May and early June 1897. In what appears to have been an unprovoked incident, a group of African Americans attacked two white men, Jesse Nickels and J. R. Hodges, just south of Atkins (Pope County) on May 30. In subsequent encounters, several residents of Lee Township, both white and black, were killed and wounded. Despite the fact that the events in Pope County attracted national attention, the extant newspaper records provide little information regarding the motivations of those who perpetrated the violence. This area of the county, located in rich farmland along the Arkansas River, was populated mostly by farmers. Atkins, …

Atkins, Jerry (Lynching of)

Jerry Atkins, a black man, was murdered in Union County on November 21, 1865, for having allegedly murdered two school-age children. The lynching was notable for the viciousness it exhibited, a brutality that foreshadowed later lynchings in the state and nation, as well as the fact that it was witnessed by federal troops still occupying the state following the Civil War. Little information exists regarding the lynching. According to an account of the event in the Goodspeed history of the area, Atkins waylaid and murdered two siblings on their way to school on November 7, 1865. The two children were Sarah K. Simpson, who was thirteen years old, and Jesse G. Simpson, eight. The diary of George W. Lewis of …

Atkinson, Wash (Lynching of)

On December 6, 1877, an African-American man named Wash Atkinson was hanged by a mob in Arkadelphia (Clark County) for allegedly attacking a white man named H. G. Ridgeway. Ridgeway was probably carpenter H. G. Ridgeway, who at the time of the 1880 census was a fifty-three-year-old widower living in Arkadelphia. On December 1, 1877, Arkadelphia’s Southern Standard published an account of the original crime. According to this report, Ridgeway, acting as “night policeman,” had been patrolling the western part of the city on Saturday, November 24. During that time, he attempted to arrest two African Americans, Wash Atkinson and Ike Smith, for disorderly conduct. While Ridgeway was holding Smith by the arm, Atkinson dropped behind them and hit Ridgeway …

Austin v. The State

Slaves in the United States had no legal rights and only limited access to legal protection, so few legal cases in antebellum Arkansas involved African Americans. Even fewer of those cases were ever reviewed by the Arkansas Supreme Court. However, a case in 1854 established a new principle for Arkansas courts that allowed slave owners to testify in criminal cases involving their own slaves. The murder trial of Austin, a slave in Independence County, was appealed to the state’s high court on several procedural issues, one of which was the denial of his owner’s testimony. The court found that such testimony must be permitted, thus throwing out the circuit court’s decision and ordering a new trial. The event that led …

Avery, Andrew (Lynching of)

On July 30, 1917, an African-American man named Andrew Avery was lynched for allegedly attacking a levee contractor named Will Woods (also referred to as W. J. Woods and William Wood) several days earlier. Although a headline in the Arkansas Gazette indicates that Avery was lynched in Garland City (Miller County), information in the article itself seems to indicate that Avery was captured by Deputy Sheriff Walter Oden at Sheppard (in neighboring Hempstead County) and a mob intercepted them on their way to the Hempstead County jail. Another article in the Pine Bluff Daily Graphic, however, omits any mention of Sheppard or Hempstead County and reports that Oden was taking Avery to the jail in Texarkana (Miller County) when he …