Entry Type: Person - Starting with M

Marshall, Fred Calvin

Fred Calvin Marshall was a jazz musician, inventor, sculptor, and educator best known as the bassist in the Vince Guaraldi Trio, which recorded the soundtrack for the Charlie Brown Christmas television special. He began his musical career in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the 1950s, later moving to Kansas City, Missouri, and California, where he became active in the thriving San Francisco musical scene in the 1960s. Fred Marshall was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on October 4, 1938, to Calvin Abel Marshall and Helen Howard Marshall, although he was raised in Little Rock. His mother was an artist and an art teacher at Arkansas Polytechnic College (now Arkansas Tech University) in Russellville (Pope County). His mother’s artistic creativity was an inspiration for …

Martin, Mahlon Adrian

Mahlon Adrian Martin was the first African-American city manager in Arkansas. He was later the chief fiscal administrator for Governor Bill Clinton and president of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. As director of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration in Clinton’s second administration, Martin held the highest state government office ever achieved in Arkansas by an African American. Mahlon Martin was born on July 19, 1945, the son of George Weldon Martin, a postal worker, and Georgietta Rowan Martin, who worked for many years at a Little Rock (Pulaski County) department store. He had two brothers and a sister. He graduated in 1963 from the all-black Horace Mann High School. Martin wanted to be a professional baseball player and received …

Martin, Mark Anthony

Mark Martin is the only driver from Arkansas competing in the top circuit of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). He ranks tenth on the all-time win list and sixth on the all-time pole position list. In 2017, he was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Mark Anthony Martin was born on January 9, 1959, in Batesville (Independence County) to Julian Martin and Jackie Estes Martin. Martin’s father was a truck driver who started a successful Batesville-based trucking company, Julian Martin, Inc., in 1960. As a hobby, Julian also sponsored a race team that competed on the numerous small local race tracks. Martin’s father instilled a passion for driving in him when he was very young. Before …

Martin, Paula Marie

Paula Martin is a writer and educator best known for her work as the host and producer of the radio show Tales from the South. Paula Marie Martin was born on October 9, 1967, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Her family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) when she was twelve, and she has lived there periodically throughout her life. She graduated from Little Rock’s Parkview High School. In the late 1980s, Martin and schoolmate Jason Morell, who had begun dating after graduation, sold all their belongings and moved to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, where they began working in a restaurant. The couple married and had three children. As they pursued their dream of opening a restaurant, they traveled and …

Martin, Roberta Evelyn

aka: Roberta Evelyn Winston Martin Austin
Roberta Evelyn Winston Martin Austin was one of the most significant figures during gospel music’s golden age (1945–1960). A performer and publisher, she reached iconic status in Chicago, Illinois, where she influenced numerous artists (such as Alex Bradford, James Cleveland, and Albertina Walker) and had an impact on an entire industry with her innovation and business acumen. Roberta Evelyn Winston was born in Helena (Phillips County) on February 12, 1907, one of six children of William and Anna Winston, proprietors of a general store. She began studying piano at age six. Her family relocated to Cairo, Illinois, before she was ten, after arriving in Chicago in 1917, Winston played for various church functions, working with Thomas A. Dorsey, the “Father …

Martineau, John Ellis

John Ellis Martineau, governor of Arkansas from 1927 to 1928, reflected the emergence of a new style of political leadership in the state. Nominally a Democrat, his administration continued the progressive positions of his predecessors, beginning with George W. Donaghey’s election in 1909. He helped to launch the Arkansas highway system with an innovative change in the source of funding, and he successfully led the relief effort following the disastrous Mississippi River Flood of 1927. His career also advanced a new and more conciliatory position on race relations with his role in the Elaine Massacre and his stance on the 1927 lynching of John Carter in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Overall, his actions as a politician and judge earned him …

Mason, Charles Harrison

An outstanding preacher and the founder of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), the largest African-American Pentecostal denomination of the twentieth century, Charles Harrison “Bishop” Mason ordained both black and white clergy in the early 1900s, when few did so. Mason was baptized, licensed, ordained in Arkansas, and he preached his first sermon in Preston (Faulkner County). Charles Mason was born on September 8, 1866, on the Prior Farm near Bartlett, Tennessee. His parents, tenant farmers Jeremiah “Jerry” Mason and Eliza Mason, had been converted to Christianity while they were slaves and attended the Missionary Baptist Church. Mason had two brothers and one sister. When Mason was twelve, a yellow fever epidemic forced his family to move from Tennessee …

Mason, James W.

aka: James Mason Worthington
James W. Mason of Chicot County was the first documented African-American postmaster in the United States. He later served as a delegate to the 1868 Arkansas constitutional convention and was a state senator. James W. Mason was born in Chicot County in 1841. His father was Elisha Worthington (1808–1873), the wealthiest landowner and largest slaveholder in Chicot County. Mason’s mother was one of Worthington’s slaves, whose name is unknown. Worthington apparently carried on a longtime, public relationship with this woman. (He did, however, marry Mary Chinn of Kentucky in 1840, but she returned to Kentucky only six months later, claiming that he was an adulterer, and the marriage was annulled.) Mason’s full name, which rarely appears in any public record, may have …

Massey, Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth Massey was a history professor noted for her early studies of women in the Civil War, years before women’s history courses became common in university history departments. Her books have continued to be important decades after their publication. Mary Elizabeth Massey (she used her full name throughout her life) was born on December 25, 1915, in Morrilton (Conway County) to Mary McClung Massey and Charles Leonidas Massey. After graduation from Morrilton High School, she attended Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County). For multiple years, Massey was president of her sorority (in an era when Hendrix had fraternities and sororities), and she served on the Interfraternity Council, the dormitory council, and the Student Senate, in addition to serving one-year …

Massey, Mary Elizabeth Smith

Mary Elizabeth Smith Massey—businesswoman, public official, and civic and political leader—was a woman with an average, middle-class, mountain background, meaning her family neither depended upon subsistence farming, sharecropping, or seasonal labor in the Arkansas River bottoms, nor did they have a big store in the county seat or hundreds of acres let to sharecroppers. She became an early Arkansas female success story in the period from 1920 to 1930, when Arkansas women were just beginning to assume prominence in state and national life. In the 1950s, she reaped the results of her early endeavors by serving as Worthy Grand Matron of the Arkansas Order of the Eastern Star and by being admitted to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court. …

Massie, Samuel Proctor, Jr.

Samuel Proctor Massie Jr. overcame racial barriers to become one of America’s greatest chemists in research and teaching. As a doctoral candidate during World War II, he worked on the Manhattan Project with Henry Gilman at Iowa State University in the development of uranium isotopes for the atomic bomb. In 1966, the U.S. Naval Academy appointed him as its first black faculty member. Massie’s research over fifty years led to the development of drugs to treat mental illness, malaria, meningitis, gonorrhea, herpes, and cancer. Chemical and Engineering News in 1998 named him one of the top seventy-five chemists of all time, along with Marie Curie, Linus Pauling, George Washington Carver, and DNA pioneers James Watson and Francis Crick. Samuel Massie …

Mathis, Deborah Myers

Deborah Mathis is an acclaimed journalist and author who has been a reporter and columnist for newspapers and a television reporter and anchor. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2003. Deborah Myers was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on August 24, 1953. Her father, Lloyd H. Myers, was a businessman and Baptist minister, while her mother, Rachel A. Helms Myers, was an educator. She has several brothers and sisters. Myers attended Gibbs Elementary, Rightsell Elementary, and Westside Junior High, graduating from Little Rock Central High in 1971. She got her start in journalism at the Central school newspaper as the first female and first African-American editor. Rather than leave home to go to college, …

Matthews, Jess Walton

Jess Matthews had a forty-four-year career in Little Rock (Pulaski County) with the Little Rock School District as teacher, coach, and administrator. For nearly two decades, he was principal of Little Rock High School, which was renamed Little Rock Central High School in 1953. He guided that school through the troubled years of desegregation, including the mob protest and military intervention in 1957 and the 1958–59 school closure. Jess Walton Matthews was born on June 7, 1900, in Blue Mound, Kansas, to Jesse W. Matthews and Lutie Woods Matthews. He graduated from high school in La Harpe, Kansas, and was in the U.S. Army during World War I. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg …

Matthews, Justin, Sr.

Justin Matthews Sr. was a prominent Arkansas businessman, real estate developer, and community leader best known for his role in the development of the North Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Sherwood (Pulaski County) areas. Justin Matthews was born on a farm near Monticello (Drew County) to Samuel James Matthews and Anna Wilson Matthews on December 23, 1875. The Matthewses were a very wealthy family in Drew County, as Samuel Matthews owned a law firm, a large nursery, and a fruit business. Samuel Matthews also served as Drew County judge and encouraged his son to study law, but Justin Matthews decided to pursue a career as a pharmacist. Matthews married Mary Agnes Somers in 1901; they had three children. Around that …

Matthews, Wilson D.

Wilson Matthews was a legendary Arkansas high school and university football coach and administrator. In his eleven years as head coach at Little Rock High School (later renamed Little Rock Central High School) in Little Rock (Pulaski County), his teams won ten state championships. He later joined the staff of coach Frank Broyles at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). As assistant coach there, he participated in the successful Razorback football program and later moved to administrative duties in the athletic department. He served at UA for over forty years, retiring as associate athletic director. Wilson David Matthews was born on July 18, 1921, in Atkins (Pope County) to Andy O. Matthews and Ester Sproles Matthews. In …

Maury, Dabney Herndon

Dabney Herndon Maury served in Arkansas as Confederate general Earl Van Dorn’s chief of staff at the Battle of Pea Ridge. Maury later led Arkansas troops in northern Mississippi during the Civil War. Dabney Herndon Maury was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on May 21, 1822, to Captain John Minor Maury and Elizabeth Maury. He had one brother. Maury’s father was a career officer in the U.S. Navy who died on active duty. Maury’s uncle, Matthew Fontaine Maury, became his guardian after his father’s death. Maury attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from 1842 to 1846, graduating thirty-seventh out of fifty-nine cadets in what some called one of the best classes ever to attend the academy. Maury served in …

Maxwell, Paul E.

Paul E. Maxwell was a modern artist and sculptor who developed a technique for using stencils to create thickly textured and layered surfaces, as well as objects he patented as “stencil casting” but that later became known as “Maxwell Pochoir.” He was also known for creating the “Max Wall” in the West Atrium of the Dallas Apparel Mart; though demolished in 2006, it can be seen as a backdrop in the science-fiction movie Logan’s Run. His work is highly abstract and often consists of some kind of grid—a form that is non-hierarchical and illustrates a major theme of his work. Paul Maxwell was born in Frost Prairie (Ashley County) on September 17, 1925, to the farm family of Willie F. …

May, Ralphie

Ralphie D. May was a stand-up comedian famous for his topical humor combined with hip-hop slang and Southern comedy, as well as his numerous appearances on reality and talk shows. May appeared in such films as For da Love of Money and was the only white standup comedian featured on The Big Black Comedy Show, Vol. 4 DVD in 2005. Ralphie May was born on February 1, 1972, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was raised in Clarksville (Johnson County). He grew up listening to veteran comedians Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, and Sam Kinison. May had wanted to be a comedian since age nine when he first saw Johnny Carson hosting The Tonight Show and thought that Carson was truly bombing his …

Mayer, Maximilian F. (Max)

Maximilian F. Mayer was a Texas-born architect and painter who practiced in Arkansas for much of his career and designed significant houses in several Little Rock (Pulaski County) neighborhoods. Max Mayer was born on January 5, 1887, in San Antonio, Texas, the eldest of seven children of Maximilian Barnhart Mayer and Helena Marie Wullf Mayer. He attended high school at St. Mary’s College and then graduated from Texas A&M in 1906 with a degree in architectural engineering. Mayer worked for an architectural firm in Cincinnati, Ohio, before moving to Paris to study for two years at the École des Beaux-Arts and, after winning the Prix de Rome scholarship, in Italy. Mayer returned to the United States in 1910 and worked …

Mayer, Mercer

Mercer Mayer is the author and illustrator of more than 300 children’s books, as well as a contributor to a variety of other media, including video, audio, and workbooks. Mercer Mayer was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on December 30, 1943. He attended elementary school in Camden (Ouachita County). A military family, the Mayers moved frequently until settling in Honolulu, Hawaii, when he was a teenager. The young Mayer enjoyed reading and drawing. After high school, he attended the Honolulu Academy of Arts and the Art Students League in New York City. In 1966, he began a career as a book illustrator in New York City. In 1967, Mayer’s first book, A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog, was …

Mayfield, Mary Victor (M. V.)

Mary Victor (M. V.) Mayfield came to Mena (Polk County) in 1918 and practiced medicine with the identity of a man for seven or eight years. A small, kind, and peaceful citizen, Mayfield soon became “the cancer doctor.” Mayfield put Mena in the national news for the events of January 23, 1926, when it was revealed by the news media that Mayfield had the biological characteristics of a female. Little is known about M. V. Mayfield’s early life. Mayfield later claimed that the male identity had begun in England—Mayfield’s parents needed a son, not a daughter, to “protect property rights,” so they dressed Mayfield as a boy. Mayfield carried this on into adulthood, also doing things society expected of men, …

Mays, Richard Leon

Richard Leon Mays was an early civil rights attorney during the struggles to integrate public facilities and end bias in Arkansas courts and law enforcement. He was in the first group of African Americans to be elected to the Arkansas General Assembly in the twentieth century and became the second African American to be a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. Governor Bill Clinton appointed him to the court in 1979. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2016. Richard L. Mays was born on August 5, 1943, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the younger of two sons of Barnett G. Mays and Dorothy Mae Greenlee Mays. Although the family lived in an integrated neighborhood on …

McAllister, James Thomas (Tom)

James Thomas (Tom) McAllister Sr., a longtime resident of Gurdon (Clark County), was an early twentieth-century southern Arkansas lumberman. In addition to selling lumber, he was a Knight Templar, a 33rd Degree Mason, a Shriner, a member of the Gurdon Chamber of Commerce, president of two Rotary Clubs, and the 1951 winner of the District Scouter Award from the Boy Scouts of America. Tom McAllister was born on May 28, 1899, near Diehlstadt, Missouri, to Alexander Jackson McAllister and Addie Caroline Reynolds McAllister. His mother died shortly after his birth, so he was raised by his grandparents, who were tenant farmers in southeastern Missouri. McAllister attended school through the tenth grade. His first job was working in Arkansas for the …

McAlmont, John Josephus

John Josephus McAlmont was one of the eight founders of the Arkansas Industrial University Medical Department, now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). John McAlmont was born on December 22, 1821, in Hornellsville, New York, the son of Daniel and Samantha Donham McAlmont and the youngest of seven siblings. McAlmont left home at age seventeen, earning money by teaching school. At twenty-one, he entered Geneva Medical College in New York for its one-semester course in medicine; there, he completed a course of lectures in medicine in April 1843. (A course of lectures was all that was required to practice medicine at the time.) McAlmont established his practice in April 1844 in Kendall Creek, Pennsylvania. The community was a …

McBeth, William Francis

William Francis McBeth was a world-renowned composer and conductor. He was the Trustees’ Distinguished University Professor and resident composer at Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia (Clark County), where he served as chairman of the Department of Music Theory and Composition. The governor appointed him composer laureate of Arkansas in 1975. McBeth’s compositions include works for all media, but was influential in the development of the literature for wind symphony. Francis McBeth was born on March 9, 1933, in Ropesville, Texas, to Joseph Phinis McBeth, a Baptist minister, and Lillie May Carpenter McBeth. He spent his youth in western Texas, where he began his musical training at an early age, studying piano with his mother and taking up the trumpet in …