World War II to Faubus Era

Sub Catagories:
  • No categories
Clear

Entries - Entry Category: World War II to Faubus Era

Arkansas Council on Human Relations (ACHR)

A key facilitator in the desegregation of public schools and businesses in the state, the Arkansas Council on Human Relations (ACHR) was formed in December 1954 out of the reorganization of the board of the Arkansas branch of the grassroots organization, the Southern Regional Council. Initial funding came from a grant, via the Southern Regional Council, from the Ford Foundation, as well as the assistance of Fred K. Darragh Jr., a noted Arkansas agribusiness leader and philanthropist. In the wake of the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision, Nat Griswold, the first director, recognized two basic problems hampering efforts to desegregate Arkansas’s public facilities: white opposition to integration and political disunity among African Americans. The …

Arkansas State Capitol, Desegregation of the

In 1964, Ozell Sutton, an African-American man, sought to exercise his right to eat at the Arkansas State Capitol cafeteria. Initially turned away, he later successfully sued in the courts for service without discrimination. The state’s attempt to privatize the cafeteria and thereby avoid desegregation was ruled unlawful. Nonviolent direct action demonstrations by students and a petition from local white clergy helped to speed the case through the courts. On July 15, 1964, Sutton attempted to eat a meal in the Arkansas State Capitol cafeteria in the basement of the building. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which required the desegregation of public accommodations, had become national law just two weeks earlier. However, Sutton was refused service. On July 21, the capitol cafeteria …

Arkansas State Press

The weekly Arkansas State Press newspaper was founded in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1941 by civil rights pioneers Lucious Christopher Bates and Daisy Gatson Bates. Modeled on the Chicago Defender and other Northern, African-American publications of the era—such as The Crisis, a magazine of the National Association of Colored People (NAACP)—the State Press was primarily concerned with advocacy journalism. Articles and editorials about civil rights often ran on the front page. Throughout its existence, the State Press was the largest statewide African-American newspaper in Arkansas. More significantly, its militant stance in favor of civil rights was unique among publications produced in Arkansas. Although in later years, Daisy Bates would be recognized as co-publisher of the paper and, in fact, …

Banks, Isadore (Murder of)

Isadore Banks, a fifty-nine-year-old prominent African-American landowner, disappeared on June 4, 1954. Banks’s wife, Alice, last saw him as he left the house with the intention of paying his farmhands. On or about June 8, 1954, Banks’s truck was discovered in a wooded property just outside of Marion (Crittenden County) by Carl Croom, a neighboring landowner. Banks’s loaded shotgun and coat were still inside. Authorities found Banks’s body tied to a tree, mutilated, and burned beyond recognition. Banks had been drenched with fuel and burned from the knees up. A can of gasoline was found close to the body. The coroner, T. H. McGough, found no sign of robbery or struggle at the scene, indicating that the killing may have …

Bates, Daisy Lee Gatson

Daisy Lee Gatson Bates was a mentor to the Little Rock Nine, the African-American students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock in 1957. She and the Little Rock Nine gained national and international recognition for their courage and persistence during the desegregation of Central High when Governor Orval Faubus ordered members of the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the entry of black students. She and her husband, Lucious Christopher (L. C.) Bates, published the Arkansas State Press, a newspaper dealing primarily with civil rights and other issues in the black community. The identity of Daisy Gatson’s birth parents has not been conclusively established. Before the age of seven, she was taken in as a foster child by Susie …

Bates, Lucious Christopher

Lucious Christopher Bates was the founder of the Arkansas State Press newspaper. Under his direction, the State Press, published in Little Rock (Pulaski County), waged a weekly statewide battle against the constraints of the Jim Crow era of segregation until the paper’s demise in 1959. Bates was a member of the executive committee of the Little Rock chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and, along with his wife Daisy, helped lead the fight that resulted in the admittance of the first nine black students to Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957. Born in Liberty, Mississippi, in 1904, L. C. Bates was the only child of Laura and Morris Bates, a farmer, carpenter and …

Branton, Wiley Austin, Sr.

Wiley Austin Branton was a civil rights leader in Arkansas who helped desegregate the University of Arkansas School of Law and later filed suit against the Little Rock School Board in a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court as Cooper v. Aaron. His work to end legal segregation and inequality in Arkansas and the nation was well known in his time. Wiley Branton was born on December 13, 1923, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), the second child of Pauline Wiley and Leo Andrew Branton. His father and paternal grandfather owned and operated a taxicab business. His mother was a schoolteacher in the segregated public schools prior to her marriage. He had three brothers and a sister. Branton was …

Caldwell, Arthur Brann

Arthur Brann Caldwell served in several capacities with the federal government over nearly four decades, including as an assistant to a U.S. senator and a U.S. vice president and as an officer in the Department of War. He also had a long career as a lawyer and administrator with the Department of Justice. A. B. Caldwell was born on September 1, 1906, in Mammoth Spring (Fulton County) to John Caldwell and Margaret Sterling Caldwell; he had one sibling. Caldwell’s father served as assistant attorney general of Arkansas before he became librarian of the Arkansas Supreme Court. Caldwell attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where he was very active in Glee Club and other musical groups and served in …

Civil Rights Movement (Twentieth Century)

The 1957 desegregation crisis at Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is often viewed as the most significant development in the civil rights struggle in Arkansas. However, this event is just one part of a struggle for African-American freedom and equality that both predates and outlasts the twentieth century. African Americans in Arkansas at the turn of the twentieth century were in an embattled state, as they were across the rest of the South. They were politically disfranchised and increasingly segregated in most areas of public life. In the Arkansas Delta, where the vast majority of Arkansas’s black population was concentrated throughout the twentieth century, blacks were often bound to the land by exploitative peonage contracts with white …

Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) is a civil rights organization founded in Chicago, Illinois, in 1942 that pioneered the use of nonviolent direct action tactics in the civil rights movement. Most notably, the organization gained national prominence in 1961 through sponsoring the Freedom Rides, which sought to test supposedly desegregated bus terminal facilities. Although CORE was a marginal presence in Arkansas compared to other civil rights organizations, it established a chapter in the state, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), that lasted from 1962 to 1965. CORE was an offshoot of the pacifist organization the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR). In 1942, it held some of the civil rights movement’s first sit-ins, targeting lunch counters in Chicago. In 1947, along with FOR, …

Council on Community Affairs (COCA)

The Council on Community Affairs (COCA) was an African-American civil rights leadership group in Little Rock (Pulaski County) that was active in the 1960s. Growing out of a need to provide coordinated black leadership in the city after the 1957 Central High School desegregation crisis, COCA was spearheaded by a group of young medical professionals. The group was careful to incorporate and bring together different figures and power bases within the black community. Through this coordinated leadership, COCA was successful in helping to desegregate Little Rock’s downtown facilities. Placing pressure on the Little Rock school board to move ahead more quickly with school desegregation, it also pressed for more and better political and economic representation for black citizens in the …

Daisy Bates et al. v. City of Little Rock

aka: Bates v. City of Little Rock
Daisy Bates et al. v. City of Little Rock, 361 U.S. 516 (1960) was a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a number of the state’s local ordinances that had been enacted in an effort to harass and hamper the efforts of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other civil rights advocates. It was one of a series of cases that arose when the region’s local white power structure—seeking to fight back against the federal court decisions and black activist–sponsored direct action that threatened to bring an end to the South’s longtime legally mandated Jim Crow practices—undertook harassment campaigns against the civil rights leaders. In Little Rock (Pulaski County), this harassment took …

Flowers, William Harold

William Harold Flowers was a lawyer, minister, social and political activist, and one of the leading figures in the civil rights movement in Arkansas in the 1940s. He was the first African-American special circuit judge in Jefferson County and a president of the African-American National Bar Association. He was also active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the state, serving as president of the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) branch and as president of the state conference of branches. Born on October 16, 1911, in Stamps (Lafayette County), William Harold Flowers was the son of Alonza (often spelled Alonzo) Williams Flowers Jr., a businessman, and Beulah Lee Sampson, a schoolteacher. He was the eldest of …

Foster, Thomas P. (Murder of)

In 1942, during World War II, a Little Rock (Pulaski County) police officer shot and killed Sergeant Thomas P. Foster. Foster, an African American from North Carolina, had been inducted into the army in May 1941. He was shot while trying to investigate the police beating of a soldier in his company. On March 22, 1942, a group of African-American soldiers from Company D of the Ninety-second Engineers stationed at Camp Joseph T. Robinson went to Little Rock’s African-American business and recreational district at Gaines and West 9th Street in search of off-post entertainment. One black soldier, Private Albert Glover, was arrested by white military police officers for public drunkenness. Little Rock police officers Abner J. Hay and George Henson …

Freedom Rides

The Freedom Rides were a tactic employed by civil rights demonstrators in 1961 to place pressure on the federal government and local leaders to end segregation in interstate transportation facilities. Ultimately, the Freedom Rides in Little Rock (Pulaski County) led the local African-American and white communities to address the lingering issue of segregation in the city. In 1947, the national civil rights organization the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) held its Journey of Reconciliation to test integrated interstate transportation on buses ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1946 Morgan v. Virginia decision. The journey involved an interracial team of bus passengers traveling through upper South states to make sure the law was being implemented. Their journey met with mixed results. …

Green, Marlon DeWitt

In 1963, Marlon DeWitt Green, an Arkansas-born African American and former U.S. Air Force pilot, broke the airline industry color barrier when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Continental Airlines had to comply with the State of Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws—there being no conflict with any federal statute—and required that the company hire him. He has been described as the “Jackie Robinson of the airline industry” for overcoming discrimination to become the first black pilot hired by a regularly scheduled commercial passenger airline. Marlon D. Green was born on June 6, 1929, in El Dorado (Union County) to McKinley Green, who was a domestic worker, and Lucy Longmyre Green, a homemaker. He had four siblings. Despite growing up economically disadvantaged, Green …

Grice, Geleve

Capturing some of the most powerful aspects of African-American life from the mundane to the sublime, Geleve Grice established himself as Arkansas’s most prolific photographer for more than six decades. From his studio in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), Grice produced thousands of photographs over the years for a variety of special occasions, including weddings, funerals, and school graduations. Although some of his more high profile photographs were featured in national publications, the heart of Grice’s work highlighted the common people and events of southeast Arkansas. Geleve Grice was born on January 16, 1922, in Tamo (Jefferson County), a small farming town located fifteen miles from Pine Bluff. At the age of thirteen, Grice moved with his parents, Toy and Lillie, …

Griswold, Nathaniel Robadeau (Nat)

The Reverend Nathaniel R. Griswold worked toward greater education, tolerance, and spiritual understanding in Arkansas for more than four decades. He was a Methodist minister, professor of religion, community organizer, and leader of regional efforts at racial reconciliation and integration as the executive director of the Arkansas Council on Human Relations (ACHR). Nathaniel Robadeau Griswold was born on March 15, 1901, in rural Columbia County into the farming family of R. W. Griswold and Clara Griswold. He had three brothers and one sister. After attending public school, he went on to Henderson-Brown College in Arkadelphia (Clark County) before attending Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, where he received a BD and an MA. He continued graduate studies at the Teacher’s College …

Hansen, Bill

aka: William Hansen
William (Bill) Hansen, a longtime political activist, was the first director of the Arkansas Project of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Hansen worked as a civil rights activist in Arkansas between 1962 and 1966. Under SNCC auspices, he participated in a number of protest activities including voter registration drives and sit-ins. Hansen was the second white field director to join SNCC, a predominantly black organization. Bill Hansen was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, into a working-class Catholic family. He came of age watching the burgeoning civil rights movement unfold on television. While a student at Xavier University, he co-founded the Xavier Interracial Council, which was designed to support the Southern civil rights struggle. Not content to sit on the sidelines …

Hoover, Theressa

Theressa Hoover worked for human rights and unity through the United Methodist Church for nearly fifty years. Born in Arkansas, she represented those who, in the words of her 1974 monograph, were in “triple jeopardy”: female, African American, and Christian. Hoover worked for justice and empowerment for women and children around the globe. Her influence has been far-reaching, as she provided inspiration for others through her words and actions. Theressa Hoover was born in Fayetteville (Washington County) on September 7, 1925. She was one of five children of James C. Hoover and Rissie Vaughn. Her mother died when Hoover was a small child, and she was reared by her father, who worked for many years at City Hospital in Fayetteville. …

Ivey, Helen Booker

Helen Booker Ivey was a longtime teacher and principal in Little Rock (Pulaski County) public schools. The Colored Branch of the Little Rock Public Library was renamed in her honor in 1951. The branch library continued to operate and serve as a community meeting place throughout the 1960s. Helen Booker Ivey was the daughter of Dr. Joseph A. Booker and Mary Jane Caver Booker; her father was the first president of Arkansas Baptist College and a leader in Arkansas’s African-American community. Her date of birth is uncertain: the 1900 census states that she was born in December 1896, while the 1930 census places her age as thirty-two, indicating an 1898 birth; her gravestone has a 1901 birthdate. She attended Arkansas …

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 …

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 has 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, …

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 …

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, 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 …

Original Tuskegee Airmen

aka: Tuskegee Airmen, Original
Arkansas’s original Tuskegee Airmen were a part of a segregated group composed of African-American Army Air Corps cadets, personnel, and support staff known as the Tuskegee Airmen. There were twelve Arkansans documented who performed and maintained various roles at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Those roles included flight instructor, pilot, flight officer, engineer, bombardier, navigator, radio technician, air traffic controller, parachute rigger, weather observer, medical professional, and electronic communications specialist. Other support staff may have included Arkansans. The term “original” is applied to the individuals who received government and civilian instructional training while at Tuskegee between 1941 and 1946. Approximately 992 pilots were trained at Tuskegee, 450 of whom saw action overseas during the war; four of those were Arkansans. …

Sit-ins

In Arkansas, the “sit-in” protest was used most commonly during the 1960s in association with the civil rights movement as a way to protest segregation at lunch counters, department stores, and other public facilities. The power of the sit-in protest lay in its peaceful nature on the side of the protestors and its ability to apply economic pressure to targeted businesses. Sit-ins are a nonviolent direct-action protest tactic. Protestors at sit-ins occupied places in both public and private accommodations to put pressure on proprietors to enforce segregation laws. In doing so, those laws—applied to peaceful demonstrators who were simply seeking services provided to other customers—came under intense scrutiny. Sit-ins also disrupted commerce and thereby placed economic pressure on merchants for …

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was one of the most radical civil rights organizations operating in the South in the 1960s. Composed largely of young people, the organization advocated group-centered leadership as opposed to the more hierarchical structure favored by groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). SNCC members participated in various protest activities designed to dismantle segregation and to increase African-American voter registration. Activists moved to the communities they sought to serve, living among local black residents and attempting to identify and empower local leaders. The group sponsored major projects in four Southern states, including Arkansas. SNCC came to Arkansas in 1962 at the behest …

Students United for Rights and Equality (SURE)

Students United for Rights and Equality (SURE) was a student civil rights organization at Southern State College (SSC) in Magnolia (Columbia County), now Southern Arkansas University (SAU). College authorities disbanded the group in 1969. The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that action in an important case upholding First Amendment rights of campus organizations and students. SURE was founded by black and white students on October 28, 1968, as an act of racial solidarity. Ernest Pickings, an African American, served as president. By design, black and white students shared other offices. The organization quickly grew to become one of the campus’s largest, with about as many white as black members. Controversy began in December 1968 when SURE sent a …

Sutton, Ozell

One of the most important Arkansas political activists at the height of the civil rights struggle during the 1950s and 1960s, Ozell Sutton was a key player at many of the movement’s most critical moments—both in the state and throughout the South. He was present at such watershed events as the 1957 Central High School desegregation crisis and the 1965 march at Selma, Alabama. In April 1968, Sutton was with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when King was murdered on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was also a trailblazer in Arkansas race relations, becoming the first black newspaper reporter to work for a white-owned newspaper when he went to work in 1950 as a staff …

Urban League

The Urban League of Greater Little Rock (ULGLR) was an affiliate of the New York–based National Urban League (NUL), which was founded in 1910. Like its parent organization, the ULGLR focused on the problems of African-American urban life in areas such as social work, education, health, and employment opportunities. The NUL under the leadership of Whitney Young was considered one of the “big six” civil rights organizations of the 1960s. On February 20, 1937, an interracial group of twenty-five people gathered in the Lena Latkin Room of the Little Rock Public Library to meet with Jessie Thomas, Southern Regional Field Director of the National Urban League, to organize an Urban League branch in the city. The prime mover behind the …

Williams, Samuel Woodrow

Samuel Woodrow Williams was an African-American Baptist minister, college professor, and civil rights activist who had a major impact on race relations in the city of Atlanta, Georgia, from the mid-to-late 1950s until his sudden death in October 1970. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2009. Samuel Woodrow Williams was born on February 20, 1912, in Sparkman (Dallas County), the oldest of the eight children of Arthur Williams and Annie Willie Butler Williams. As a child, he enjoyed hunting, fishing, and playing baseball and basketball, but nothing gave him as much pleasure as reading; over his lifetime, he amassed a collection of more than 1,000 volumes. Lessons about racism came early for Williams. Before he …