Entries - Gender: Female - Starting with M

Mapes, Doris Genevieve Williamson

Doris Genevieve Williamson Mapes became one of Arkansas’s leading mid-twentieth-century artists. Adept in a variety of paint media, she was best known as a watercolorist who used bold, bright colors with strong patterns and abstract designs. Mapes’s style was described as imaginative realism. Memphis’s Commercial Appeal art critic Guy Northrop wrote that Mapes had a loose and airy flair. “There is a freshness to her world,” Northrop said, “and an expression of joy.” Doris Williamson was born on June 25, 1920, in Russellville (Pope County), the only child of Floyd Henry Williamson, who was a farmer, and Ruby Harvill Williamson. Her interest in art began at an early age with her father’s regular purchase of the Denver Post at the local …

Marinoni, Rosa Zagnoni

Rosa Zagnoni Marinoni was poet laureate of Arkansas from 1953 to 1970. A prolific poet herself, she worked to promote a greater appreciation of poetry, to establish an annual Poetry Day in Arkansas, and to encourage poets in her own time and place. Rosa Zagnoni was born in Bologna, Italy, on January 5, 1888, and came to the United States with her parents in 1898. They lived in Brooklyn, New York. Her father, Antero Zagnoni, was a journalist and drama critic. Her mother, Maria Marzocchi, was a poet and artist, and her uncle, Federico Marzocchi, was also a poet. She married Antonio Marinoni in Brooklyn on July 30, 1908, and moved to Fayetteville (Washington County), where her husband was 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 …

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 …

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. …

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, …

Mayfield, Mary Victor (M. V.)

Mary Victor (M. V.) Mayfield was a woman who came to Mena (Polk County) in 1918 and practiced medicine in the guise of a man for seven or eight years. A small, kind, and peaceful citizen, she soon became “the cancer doctor.” She put Mena in the national news for the events of January 23, 1926, when her identity as a woman was revealed by the news media. Little is known about M. V. Mayfield’s early life. She later claimed that her gender deception began in England—her parents needed a son, not a daughter, to “protect property rights,” so they dressed her as a boy and raised her in disguise. Mayfield carried the masquerade into adulthood by smoking a pipe and drinking a …

McCoy, Kerrin Lou Krouse (Kerry)

Kerry McCoy is an Arkansas entrepreneur who founded Arkansas Flag and Banner, Inc. (now FlagandBanner.com) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1975. McCoy is publisher of Brave Magazine and host of the radio show Up in Your Business, and she also drew wide acclaim for overseeing the restoration of the historic Dreamland Ballroom. Kerrin Lou Krouse was born on September 27, 1954, in Little Rock to Edwin Ormond Krouse and Sara Lee Rhea Krouse. Her parents met during World War II while her father was serving in the military and had married in Walla Walla, Washington. After the war, the couple moved to Little Rock and had three children. There, Ed Krouse dabbled in many small businesses. The family moved …

McCoy, Rose Marie

Rose Marie Hinton McCoy broke into the white, male-dominated music business in the early 1950s to become a highly sought-after songwriter whose career lasted over six decades. More than 360 artists have recorded her tunes, including Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, and Sarah Vaughan. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame in 2018. Marie Hinton was born in Oneida (Phillips County) on April 19, 1922, to Levi Hinton and Celetia Brazil Hinton. She and her older brother and sister attended the area’s two-room elementary school, went to church regularly, and worked on the forty-acre farm their parents rented. Though Oneida was located in the Mississippi Delta, often referred …

McDermott, Lillian Dees

Lillian M. Dees McDermott was a social worker and community leader in Little Rock (Pulaski County). She made great strides to improve the juvenile courts, schools, and the field of social work. Referred to as the “dean of social workers in Arkansas,” she was the first person in Arkansas to become a certified professional social worker. Lillian Dees was born to Hardy Scott Dees, a farmer and businessman, and Mary Frances Pace Dees on October 4, 1877, near Little Rock. After attending Little Rock public schools, Dees graduated with a degree from Galloway Female College in Searcy (White County), which merged with Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) in 1933. She later served on the Board of Trustees for Hendrix …

McDiarmid, Clara Alma Cox

Clara Alma Cox McDiarmid was Arkansas’s foremost nineteenth-century women’s reformer. She supported suffrage, temperance, women’s education, and the women’s club movement. Active locally and nationally and concerned about women’s inequalities under the law, she also supported cultural activities in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and farther afield. Clara Cox was born on December 11, 1847, the second of six children in a prominent Noblesville, Indiana, family. Her father’s mother was renowned preacher Lydia Sexton of New Jersey, the first female chaplain for Kansas State Prison. Her mother was Catherine Rowan Allison of Ohio. Her father, John Thomas Cox of Ohio, was a surveyor who moved his family to Coffey County, Kansas, in 1857, where he laid out the town of Ottumwa, …

McDougal, Susan Carol Henley

Susan Carol Henley McDougal became famous in the 1990s for refusing to testify before Kenneth Starr and the Office of Independent Counsel (OIC) grand jury held in Little Rock (Pulaski County) during the Whitewater scandal investigation. She was imprisoned for almost two years, before ultimately being found not guilty and released. Susan Henley was born in 1955 in Heidelberg, Germany, to James Henley, a U.S. Army sergeant originally from Camden (Ouachita County), and Laurette Mathieu Henley, a native of Belgium. Susan grew up in Camden, the middle child of seven, and attended public schools. She entered Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) at Arkadelphia (Clark County) in the fall of 1972 on a Latin scholarship. At OBU, she met Jim McDougal, then …

McDougall, Jo Garot

Jo Garot McDougall is a poet of the Arkansas Delta. Her work is noted for its sparseness and evocation of small-town life. Her poems are subtle portraits of the lives of rural families, farmers, housewives, and the struggles and tragedies they face. She has won many prizes for her work, which has been published in books, literary journals, and anthologies. In 2018, she was named Poet Laureate of Arkansas. Jo Garot was born on December 15, 1935, and raised near DeWitt (Arkansas County). Her father, Leon Joseph Garot, was a rice farmer. Her mother, Ruth Maurine Merritt Garot, was a secondary education teacher. She has one sister, Nancy. Garot grew up on a rice farm and received a Bachelor of …

McGraw, Patricia Washington

Patricia Washington McGraw, a scholar, professor, and author, has made a significant impact throughout the country and the world as an educator and African-American cultural preservationist. Patricia Washington was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to William and Ruth Washington, natives of Danville (Yell County), on May 6, 1935. While she was growing up in a time of school segregation and Jim Crow laws, her parents instilled in her the value of education and the importance of embracing her African-American heritage. In 1953, she graduated from all-black Dunbar High School in Little Rock. McGraw graduated from San Francisco State College in California in 1957 and earned a master’s degree in American literature from the college in 1967. She was the …

McLarey, Myra Dell

Howard County native Myra Dell McLarey is a teacher and an author of a wide variety of works, many influenced by her childhood in southwest Arkansas. She is best known for her 1995 debut novel Water from the Well, a semi-autobiographical work of fiction set in the fictional town of Sugar Springs, Arkansas. Myra Dell McLarey, the youngest of five children, was born on September 5, 1942, in Okay (Howard County), the company town of the Okay Cement Plant, to Charles Drowns McLarey Jr. and Josie Earline Fincher McLarey. Her father was a supervisor at the cement plant as well as a deputy sheriff and the elected constable of the Saratoga-Okay township; her mother was a homemaker and later a …

McMath, Betty Dortch Russell

aka: Betty Dortch Russell
aka: Betty Russell
Betty Dortch Russell McMath became Arkansas’s most prominent portrait artist during the second half of the twentieth century. Her commissions included governors, judges, literary figures, and numerous business, civic, and social leaders. Beyond portraiture, her paintings seized the everyday moments of small-town life in Arkansas and chronicled its plantation culture. She produced portraits of five Arkansas governors, including Sid McMath, who was her second husband. Betty Ruth Dortch was born on July 14, 1920, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the daughter of Steele Dortch and Mabel Wittenberg Dortch. She had one sister, Judith. The family lived on 1,200 acres near Scott (Pulaski and Lonoke counties) in a home her father built. The house was situated on Bearskin Lake about one …

Medearis, Mary Myrtle

Though she always considered herself a musician, Mary Myrtle Medearis was best known as the author of Big Doc’s Girl (1942), a novel that grew out of an assigned autobiographical short story in a creative writing class. It has the distinction of having stayed in print longer than any other work of fiction by an Arkansan. Ever tenacious, Medearis had great success as a writer and historian in spite of her humble beginnings—and partly because of them. Mary Medearis was born in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) on May 31, 1915. Her mother, Myrtle Hendricks, taught piano. Her father, Dr. Robert Medearis, practiced medicine. Mary, whose maternal grandparents had been vaudeville performers, inherited her family’s love for music. By the …

Meyer, Rhena Salome Miller

aka: Goat Woman of Smackover
Rhena Salome Miller Meyer—better known as “the Goat Woman”—lived in Smackover (Union County) for over fifty years. Her sometimes reclusive nature, numerous pet goats, and considerable musical talents as a “one-woman band” all contributed to her folk-figure status in the region. Rhena (sometimes spelled Rhene) Miller was born in Orwin, Pennsylvania, on July 26, 1905. Her father, John R. Miller, was a Quaker who worked on a dairy farm and had a traveling medicine show that promoted the Seven Sisters Hair Tonic. He is said to have used young Rhena as a model in advertising the hair-growth tonic; however, as with much of her life story, no evidence has been found for this. Her mother, Katie Kessler, was an opera …

Mickel, Lillian Estes Eichenberger

Lillian Estes Eichenberger Mickel pioneered women’s roles in multiple fields. She served as a professional photographer, founded a nursing home, established a unique facility for handicapped children, was an accomplished portrait painter, and served as Johnson County’s historian. Lillian Eichenberger was born in Clarksville (Johnson County) on June 14, 1909, to Lafayette Eichenberger and Martha Louisa Black Eichenberger. She had seven siblings. Her father, a house painter, died in 1912. Her mother was an extremely talented seamstress. At the age of twelve, Eichenberger went to work in M. E. Anderson’s photography studio in order to give financial help to her widowed mother. She learned the photography business, becoming the first woman photographer in the state to make and distribute colored …

Midwives

Midwives have filled a clear, important role in Arkansas history by caring for populations of women who were medically underserved. Their role was almost supplanted by physicians in the early twentieth century, but they remain a viable option for women seeking an alternative model of birth care. Midwives in the hill country of Arkansas were well-respected members of the community who performed their duties as a service to their neighbors. Most were older women whose own children were grown and who had learned their trade from another midwife. They carried a midwife’s book and bag with them to assist during complicated deliveries when no doctor was available. Midwives were very knowledgeable on the subject of childbirth and the many uses …

Miles, Ann

Ann (Annie) Miles is a former actress, stuntwoman, Playboy bunny, Broadway hairstylist, and model from Malvern (Hot Spring County). Miles began her career as a stuntwoman riding the famous diving horses on Atlantic City’s Steel Pier. Among other stunts on television and film, she performed the “spiderwalk” in director William Friedkin’s 1973 film The Exorcist, a scene that was cut from the film’s original release and for which she was initially uncredited. Miles worked as a hair and wig stylist on and off Broadway in Manhattan, where she spent the bulk of her career. Ann Miles was born in Malvern in 1940. Her father, Hubert Eastham, later became executive vice president at Pine Bluff National Bank. Miles had a talent …

Miller, Eliza Ann Ross

Eliza Ann Ross Miller was an African-American businesswoman and educator, as well as the first woman to build and operate a movie theater in Arkansas. She was the wife of prosperous Helena (Phillips County) businessman, state legislator, and church leader Abraham Hugo Miller. After her husband’s death, she continued his business operations while also providing leadership in the Helena school system. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999. Eliza Ross was born in Arkadelphia (Clark County) on September 6, 1869, to George and Sarah Ross. On June 15, 1887, she married Abraham H. Miller in Arkadelphia. The couple had eight children, five of whom survived into adulthood. Abraham Miller, who had been successful in real …

Miss Arkansas Pageant

The Miss Arkansas Pageant officially began in 1939, though two competitions before that year set the stage for the pageant. The pageant is Arkansas’s preliminary for the Miss America Pageant, which began in 1921. Forty-five smaller pageants lead up to the crowning of Miss Arkansas. The competition is managed by a non-profit organization and co-sponsored by the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation, Inc. The first winner of the pageant was Vivian Ferguson. However, she was later disqualified for being married, and the competition was halted until 1938, when the winner was Lorene Bailey. The next year, for the first time, the winner of the pageant was sent to compete in the Miss America pageant, thus marking the official beginning of the Miss …

Mitchell, Juanita Jackson

Juanita Jackson Mitchell was a pioneering African-American attorney whose many accomplishments included being the first black woman to practice law in Maryland. Born in Arkansas, she grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. There, she became a civil rights attorney, as well as the matriarch of one of Maryland’s most politically influential black families. Juanita Elizabeth Jackson was born on January 2, 1913, in Hot Springs (Garland County) to Keiffer Albert Jackson and Dr. Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson. Keiffer Jackson was an exhibitor of religious and educational films, which he showed across the country, and he and his wife were apparently in the midst of one of the exhibition tours when their daughter was born, but as soon as they were able, …

Mitchell, Martha

aka: Martha Elizabeth Beall Jennings Mitchell
Martha Elizabeth Beall Mitchell gained worldwide recognition for her outspokenness during the Watergate scandal—a scandal that forced President Richard Nixon to resign from office on August 9, 1974. She was a renowned character in Washington DC. During President Nixon’s first term, her husband, John Mitchell, was attorney general. Nixon once said, “If it hadn’t been for Martha Mitchell, there’d have been no Watergate.” Martha Beall was born on September 2, 1918, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Her father, George V. Beall, was a cotton broker, and her mother, Arie Elizabeth Ferguson Beall, was a speech and drama teacher for fifty years in the Pine Bluff School District. Beall graduated in May 1937 from Pine Bluff High School, where she was …

Mitchell, Sarah Elizabeth Latta

Sarah Elizabeth Latta Mitchell was an early and dedicated member of the Children’s Aid Society in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the oldest charitable institution in the city. Mitchell earned community recognition as president of the society, serving in that capacity from 1886 until her death in 1920. In 1947, the institution she had served for over thirty years was renamed the Elizabeth Mitchell Memorial Home in her honor. Elizabeth Latta, Lizzie to friends and family, was born on January 6, 1839, at Vineyard near Evansville (Washington County), to John and Jane Starr Latta. She was the youngest of their thirteen children. Latta’s family had moved to northwest Arkansas in 1833 from York District, South Carolina, to escape the “idleness, drinking, …

Mock, Lucy Byrd

Lucy Byrd Mock, a native of Prairie Grove (Washington County), set numerous records as a golfer, established two national World War I–era women’s organizations, and was a noted author, journalist, poet, and publisher. Lucy Byrd Mock was born in Prairie Grove on February 23, 1876, the second of James Mock and Amanda Patton Mock’s six children. She was a student at the Methodist Academy in Prairie Grove until 1890, when she was admitted to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) as a fourteen-year-old sophomore. After completing the spring semester in 1893, she spent part of her summer break on a trip overseas to Great Britain, where she learned to play golf. Mock enjoyed the game so much …

Monastery of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge

aka: Good Shepherd Home
The Monastery of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge, also known as the Good Shepherd Home, has provided education and childcare in Hot Springs (Garland County) since its inception in the early twentieth century. The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge, a Catholic order of nuns who operate the monastery daycare, attracted national and state attention in 2007 when most of their members were excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church for heresy; these constitute the only excommunications issued in the history of the Diocese of Little Rock. The monastery began with the arrival of five French-speaking Canadian nuns to Hot Springs from Ottawa on September 18, 1908. They came at the request of Bishop John Baptist Morris, who …

Montague, Raye Jean Jordan

Raye Jean Jordan Montague was an internationally registered professional engineer (RPE) with the U.S. Navy who is credited with the first computer-generated rough draft of a U.S. naval ship. The U.S. Navy’s first female program manager of ships (PMS-309), Information Systems Improvement Program, she held a civilian equivalent rank of captain. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2018. Raye Jordan was born on January 21, 1935, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Rayford Jordan and Flossie Graves Jordan. She attended St. Bartholomew School before moving to Merrill High School in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), graduating in 1952. She attended Arkansas AM&N (now the University of Arkansas at …

Montana, Patsy

aka: Ruby Blevins
Patsy Montana was a pioneering female country music singer whose signature song, “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” was the first record by a female country artist to sell a million copies. Patsy Montana was born Ruby Blevins on October 30, 1908, near Hot Springs (Garland County). She was the eleventh child and only daughter of farmer Augustus Blevins and his wife, Victoria. By the 1920 census, the family was living in Hempstead County. Raised on church songs, fiddle music, and the music of country star Jimmie Rodgers, Blevins headed to Los Angeles with her brother and sister-in-law in 1930; hoping to catch the public’s eye, she changed the spelling of her first name to Rubye. She studied violin …

Montgomery, Bonnie

Bonnie Montgomery is a singer, songwriter, and musician from Arkansas. A classically trained singer and pianist, she has made a name for herself in the field of country music, releasing several full-length albums and touring and performing with nationally known acts. Musician Dale Watson called her a “sophisticated badass who was born to sing,” while Counterpunch praised her “white trash arias, soaked in alcohol and sex.” Montgomery herself says music “connects us all” and is a “beautiful, spiritual thing.” Bonnie Jill Montgomery was born on August 18, 1979, in Searcy (White County) to Vani Quattlebaum Montgomery and Little Rock (Pulaski County) native Marcus Montgomery. Her father was a farmer and owner of a trucking company. Her mother became the owner …

Monument to Confederate Women

With the rise of memorial groups in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, commemorating the sacrifice of those who fought in the Civil War became a major theme of popular remembrance. Recognizing women’s sacrifices during the war was a large part of this. On May 1, 1913, Little Rock (Pulaski County) became home to the South’s second monument to the women of the Confederacy (the first being erected in South Carolina the previous year). The monument is cast in bronze upon a marble, concrete, and granite base. It depicts a woman seated, a young boy to her right holding a military-style drum, and a young girl to her left, all bidding farewell to a standing husband and father departing …

Moore, Bessie Grace Boehm

Bessie Boehm Moore was an educator and civic leader. She was widely known for her efforts in the promotion of libraries. Later in life, her focus was on economic education in the public schools and the creation of what is now the Ozark Folk Center State Park. She was inducted into the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2018. Bessie Grace Boehm was born on August 2, 1902, in Owensboro, Kentucky, to Edgar Boehm, a farmer, and Bessie Calloway Boehm, a homemaker. Her mother died a few hours after her birth. Boehm was taken to her aunt in Daviess County, Kentucky, where she lived until her father remarried when she was nine. Boehm learned to read at an early age …

Moorman, Charlotte

aka: Madeline Charlotte Moorman Garside
Charlotte Moorman was a cellist, avant-garde performance artist, and founder of the New York Avant Garde Festival. Madeline Charlotte Moorman was born on November 18, 1933, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to J. R. and Vernan Moorman; her father was a sales manager. Moorman began playing the cello at the age of ten, going on to perform with local symphonies while enrolled at Central High School. A member of the National Honor Society and a Central High debutante group called the Southernaires, Moorman graduated in 1951 and attended Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana, on a music scholarship. After receiving a BA in 1955, Moorman earned a master’s degree in 1957, studying under illustrious concert cellist Horace Britt at the University …

Moroles, Maria Christina DeColores

Maria Christina DeColores Moroles (also known by the ceremonial names Sun Hawk and Aguila) is best known for founding and maintaining Santuario Arco Iris, an intentional land community in Ponca (Newton County) designed specifically as a “sacred land space” for women and children, especially marginalized women and children of color. Moroles, a so-called two-spirit woman of Mexican and Indigenous American descent, began living on the 500-acre wilderness preserve in 1976. (Moroles prefers the pan-Indian term “two spirit” to the term “lesbian” to describe a third or non-binary gender identification and sexual orientation that derives from Native American ceremonial roles and culture.) Maria Christina DeColores Moroles was born on October 17, 1953, in Corpus Christi, Texas, to Jose Elizondo Moroles of …

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 …

Mount St. Mary Academy

Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock (Pulaski County), a Catholic school established in 1851, is Arkansas’s oldest educational institution still teaching today. The academy is the state’s only all-girl secondary school. Today, Mount St. Mary educates about 550 high school students. In late 1850, Bishop Andrew Byrne went to Ireland in search of an order of sisters to promote Catholic education in Arkansas. Upon contacting the Sisters of Mercy, Byrne was granted twelve members of the order. The women arrived in Little Rock on February 5, 1851, a date now known as “Founders Day.” The sisters lived in Byrne’s house on 2nd Street and then in a meeting house on Markham Street. Their “official” convent at 6th and Louisiana streets …

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 …

Myers, Amina Claudine

Arkansas native Amina Claudine Myers is a noted pianist, singer, educator, recording artist, and composer who gained prominence in Chicago, Illinois, and New York City beginning in the 1970s. She has had a long career in jazz, choral/orchestral music, and theater, and is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame. Amina Claudine Myers was born on March 21, 1942, in Blackwell (Conway County). She was raised by her great-aunt, Emma Thomas, and by her uncle, who gave her music lessons early in her life. She studied classical piano at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Morrilton (Conway County). She moved to Dallas, Texas, in 1949 and kept studying piano. She played for …