Gender: Male

Alexander, John Hanks

John Hanks Alexander was the second African-American graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, following Henry O. Flipper. John Alexander was born on January 6, 1864, the son of James Milo Alexander and Fannie Miller Alexander, both of whom were born slaves. Supported and protected by prominent white families in Helena (Phillips County),  Alexander’s father prospered as a barber and dealer in toiletries, acquired property, and purchased his own freedom, as well as that of most of his family. Alexander’s parents were determined that their seven children would be educated. All seven graduated from high school, and three attended Oberlin College in Ohio. In 1879, Alexander graduated from high school in Helena at the head of his …

Alexander, Larry Dell

Larry Dell Alexander is a visual artist, writer, and Bible teacher best known for his elaborate pen-and-ink drawings and crosshatching technique. He painted Clinton Family Portrait, an oil painting that he gave to President Bill Clinton in 1995. He has also written several Bible study commentary books on the New Testament. Larry D. Alexander was born on May 30, 1953, in Dermott (Chicot County), the second son of Robert and Janie Alexander. His father was a truck driver and his mother a hairdresser. He has eight siblings. Alexander began drawing at age four and never received any formal art training while growing up. After graduating from Dermott High School in May 1971, Alexander moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where …

Alexander, William Vollie (Bill), Jr.

William Vollie (Bill) Alexander Jr. represented the state of Arkansas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969 to 1993, rising to the post of Chief Deputy House Majority Whip, an important position of chamber leadership. Bill Alexander was born on January 16, 1934, in Memphis, Tennessee, to William V. Alexander Sr. and Spencer (Buck) Alexander. The family moved to Osceola (Mississippi County) soon thereafter. He graduated from Osceola High School in 1951. That same year, he became an Eagle Scout. From 1951 to 1953, he served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), joined the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, and then moved back to the city of his …

Alford, Boyce

Boyce Alford was a well-respected optometrist who also had a long career in public service. Active at both the local and state levels, the conservative Democrat served in the Arkansas General Assembly for a decade, while holding various local offices for an additional twenty years. D. Boyce Alford was born on November 13, 1923, in Cove (Polk County). His first initial is something of a mystery, as his tombstone reads “Boyce Alford,” and there are apparently no records that reveal his full first name. He was the son of Thomas Franklin Alford, a one-time state commissioner of education, and Ida Womack Alford, also an educator. Boyce Alford grew up in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and graduated from Little Rock Catholic …

Alford, Thomas Dale

Thomas Dale Alford was a prominent Arkansas ophthalmologist, Episcopalian, radio announcer, civic leader, and politician remembered largely as a leader of opposition to federally mandated desegregation during the crisis at Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Alford’s role as a leading segregationist came first through his seat on the Little Rock School Board and then as the “Segregation Sticker Candidate” who upset incumbent Democratic U.S. Representative Brooks Hays after a notorious ten-day write-in campaign in the 1958 election for the Fifth Congressional District of Arkansas. Dale Alford was born near Murfreesboro (Pike County) on January 28, 1916, the son of T. H. Alford and Ida Womack Alford, both of whom were itinerant school teachers. His father ultimately became …

Allbright, Charles Wilson

Charles Wilson Allbright was one of the best-known and most widely read newspaper columnists in Arkansas. Allbright wrote for the Arkansas Gazette and its successor the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, served as a speech writer, and authored several books. Charles Allbright was born on February 5, 1929, in Oxford, Mississippi, to Brice and Nita Allbright. In an interview conducted by Michael Haddigan in March 2000, Allbright stated, “I was born in Oxford, Mississippi, which has nothing to do with my life except that is where my mother’s parents were. And, in those days, it took two weeks to have a baby, and you’d go where your parents are, and they’d take care of you, so I was born at Oxford.” At the …

Allen, Al

aka: Alvin Lee Allen Jr.
Alvin Lee (Al) Allen Jr. was a painter whose contributions to Arkansas culture were his artwork, his teaching, his development of the Department of Art at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), and two autobiographical books. His mature work was of idealized man-made structures, often with windows, bathed in bright light. His style presents realistic subjects in a classical and abstract way. Al Allen was born on November 29, 1925, the only child of Carrie Allen and Alvin Lee Allen of Steele, Missouri. His father was an automobile dealer in nearby Caruthersville; his mother was a seamstress who later worked for Goldsmith’s department store in Memphis, Tennessee. The Missouri Bootheel landscape was an environment of vast space, emptiness, …

Allen, Dick

aka: Richard Anthony Allen
Richard Anthony “Dick” Allen—or “Richie” Allen, as the media called him early in his career—was the first African American to play for the minor league baseball team based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). That same year, 1963, official baseball records first recognized the team’s name change from the Little Rock Travelers to the Arkansas Travelers. After one season in Little Rock, Allen had a memorable, though controversial, career in the major leagues. Dick Allen was born on March 8, 1942, in Wampum, Pennsylvania, the second youngest of nine children born to Era Allen and Coy Allen, a traveling truck driver and self-employed sanitation worker who later divorced her. Era Allen raised Dick Allen primarily on her own. Allen’s family was …

Alley, Gerald Byron

Gerald Byron Alley is the founder of Con-Real, LP, which is the leading black-owned construction and real estate firm in Texas, with other offices located in Arkansas and California. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame in 2020. Gerald Alley was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on September 30, 1952. He was the youngest of five children of Troy Alley, a local businessman who started the Alley ESSO Service Station, and Gladys Gray Alley, an educator who had taught at Philander Smith College before marriage. After attending local public and private schools, and working in his father’s station, Alley enrolled in the University of Arkansas (UA) in …

Allin, Richard

Richard Allin was a journalist and humorist who for thirty years wrote the popular “Our Town” column for the Arkansas Gazette and then the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. His friend and colleague Charles Allbright wrote a lighthearted column called “Arkansas Traveler” that appeared on the same page of the newspaper as “Our Town” five days a week, making that page a staple for newspaper readers searching for relief from the daily gravity of news. Richard Allin was born on October 6, 1930, in Helena (Phillips County), one of two sons of Richard Allin, who was a bookkeeper, and Dora Harper Allin, who taught the boys to use proper grammar. His older brother, John Maury Allin, became the twenty-third presiding bishop of the …

Allison, Luther

Blues guitarist and singer Luther Allison was born in Arkansas, but like many of his contemporaries in the rural South, he rose to fame in cities far from his original home. His style exemplified the soulful blues of the west side of Chicago, Illinois, where he moved with his family as a child. Later, in 1977, when the popularity of the blues faded in the United States, he began touring Europe extensively and became an international star. Born in Widener (St. Francis County) on August 17, 1939, Luther Allison was the fourteenth of fifteen children, all of whom were musically inclined, born to parents who were cotton farmers. He was exposed to gospel music as a young child, although he …

Allsopp, Fred

Frederick William Allsopp was a newspaperman, book collector, and bookstore owner who was an important player in the history of the Arkansas Gazette. Though he never held the title of editor or publisher, he shaped the development of the Gazette—and of Arkansas newspapers at large—for the duration of his career. Fred W. Allsopp was born on June 25, 1867, in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England. When he was twelve, his family moved to Prescott (Nevada County). Shortly thereafter, he entered the “newspaper business” by selling newspapers. In 1884, he worked for thirteen weeks setting type and working in the printing department of the Nevada County Picayune. He did not receive any pay, but he gained invaluable experience. With dreams of someday becoming …

Allwhite, Louis (Lynching of)

Louis Allwhite, a white man, was lynched just outside of Newport (Jackson County) on December 31, 1904, for having allegedly participated, with his son, in the rape and murder of two women on Christmas Day. The incident is particularly indicative of the brazenness of lynch mobs and how their violence was abetted by local law enforcement officials, who typically ruled that the victim of a lynching died at the hands of people “unknown” even when the act was carried out in broad daylight. At the time of the murder, Louis Allwhite was forty-three years old and Newton Allwhite nineteen. In the 1900 census, the Allwhite family is recorded as living in Big Bottom Township of neighboring Independence County, the family …

Almand, John Parks

John Parks Almand worked as an architect in Arkansas for fifty years, beginning in 1912. Ten of his commissions have been recognized for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, including Central High School, First Church of Christ Scientist, and First Presbyterian Church, all in Little Rock (Pulaski County). First United Methodist Church in Fordyce (Dallas County) is also included, as well as Couchwood, the country home of Arkansas Power & Light founder Harvey Couch, and the Medical Arts Building, both in Hot Springs (Garland County). John Almand was born on May 8, 1885, in Lithonia, Georgia. He was the third of eight children of Alexander J. and Clara Bond Almand. Almand attended Emory College in Georgia and graduated …

Alph (Lynching of)

A mob of white residents of Benton County lynched Alph, an enslaved African-American man, on August 20, 1849. Alph was accused of murdering his enslaver, James J. Anderson, whose father had homesteaded near what is now the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport and who himself owned land in Bentonville (Benton County). In early August 1849, Alph was accused of some improper conduct, prompting Anderson to separate him from his wife by taking him downstate to be sold. According to the Arkansas Gazette, during that trip, after passing through Van Buren (Crawford County) on the way to Fort Smith (Sebastian County), Alph killed Anderson on August 4, around noon. Alph subsequently appeared in Fayetteville (Washington County) on Sunday, August 5, around 3:00 …

Altheimer, Benjamin Joseph, Sr.

Benjamin Joseph Altheimer Sr. was a lawyer and philanthropist who was known as a “real trailblazer” in promoting agricultural research and education in Arkansas. He created the Ben J. Altheimer Foundation, which has provided funding for civic, legal, and agricultural endeavors. Ben J. Altheimer was born on September 30, 1877, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), the only son of Joseph and Matilda Josephat Altheimer. He had one sister. His parents were German–Jewish immigrants who were members of Pine Bluff’s Congregation Anshe Emeth. Joseph’s brother Louis had brought him to Pine Bluff, where he had established and operated a mercantile store. The two brothers became land developers and, together, founded the town of Altheimer (Jefferson County). Ben Altheimer was educated at …

Altheimer, Joshua

Joshua Altheimer was one of the Delta’s most prolific blues pianists. Altheimer mastered the emerging boogie-woogie style of the 1930s as he accompanied some of the legendary blues musicians of his era. Joshua Altheimer was born on May 17, 1911, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to Silas Altheimer and Verdis Pruitt Barnes Altheimer. He played his first years in Arkansas, performing during the late 1920s. It is not clear whether Altheimer knew blues legend “Big Bill” Broonzy during this period, who was from his home county and who was raised just a few miles from where he was born. By the 1930s, Altheimer had moved to Chicago, Illinois, and was playing with the likes of John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson, Washboard Sam, …

Alworth, Lance Dwight “Bambi”

An All-American football player at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1961, Lance Dwight “Bambi” Alworth was the first player from the American Football League (AFL) to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lance Alworth was born on August 3, 1940, in Houston, Texas, to Richard R. Alworth, an oilfield construction executive, and Elizabeth L. Parrish Alworth, a teacher. When he was a child, his family moved to Hog Chain, Mississippi, where his father’s company, Humble Oil, had an operation. At high school in nearby Brookhaven, Alworth won fifteen letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track. The New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates both offered Alworth contracts to play professional baseball, …

American Krusaders

The American Krusaders was an organization founded in 1923 that claimed Little Rock (Pulaski County) as its “supreme headquarters.” The group’s application for incorporation was filed in the district court in Little Rock on August 27, 1923, and the petition seeking incorporation said that the organization would be run by a national legislative body called the National Konvention of the American Krusaders. While the Krusaders’ charter described the organization as “purely benevolent, charitable fraternal, protective and eleemosynary,” it was regularly described as an offshoot or affiliate of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The New York Daily News referred to it as a “Klan chapter for the foreign born,” while the Camden, New Jersey, Courier-Post observed that its members, while “mostly …

Ames, Wyatt (Lynching of)

On October 15 or 16, 1883, an African-American man named Wyatt Ames was shot to death near Lexington (some reports say Livingston) in Phillips County for allegedly killing a young deputy constable named Sanders (sometimes referred to as Saunders or Sander) Blount. Presumably, these events took place near Lexington (later renamed Lexa), which is in Phillips County just south of the boundary with Lee County. Wyatt Ames does not appear in any Phillips County records, but in 1870 a ten-year-old named Sanders Blount was living with his father, Richard Blount, in Planters Township. Richard Blount had been in the county since at least 1860, when he was living in Planters Township and had real estate valued at $8,400 and a …

Anderson, “Broncho Billy”

aka: Gilbert Maxwell Aronson
“Broncho Billy” Anderson was the stage name of Gilbert Maxwell Aronson, America’s first cowboy movie star. Anderson pioneered the genre that eventually produced stars such as John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Roy Rogers, Buck Jones, and Tom Mix. Anderson also worked behind the camera as a director and producer and developed production techniques still in use today. He was awarded a special Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1958. Max Aronson was born in 1880 in Little Rock (Pulaski County). His mother, Esther Ash Aronson, was from a Russian Jewish family, and his father, traveling salesman Henry Aronson, was from a German Jewish family. The Aronsons had seven children. Most of the children were born in …

Anderson, Andrew Lee (Killing of)

On July 17, 1963, an African American teenager named Andrew Lee Anderson was killed while fleeing from a posse of white citizens and sheriff’s deputies. Anderson’s killing, and its classification as an “excusable homicide,” illustrates how white citizens of Crittenden County could commit acts of violence against Black citizens with impunity at this time and shows how the legal system failed African Americans. Earlier that day, sixteen-year-old Anderson had been mowing a lawn in Marion (Crittenden County) when a white woman accused him of sexually assaulting her eight-year-old daughter. The mother followed Anderson in her car and called for help, attracting some neighbors and local law enforcement who took over the pursuit. The armed posse was composed of six sheriff’s …

Anderson, Bruce Roy

Bruce Roy Anderson was a prominent Arkansas architect and watercolorist in the mid-twentieth century. Bruce Anderson was born on October 7, 1907, in Newport (Jackson County), the son of George Roy Anderson and Amelia Frei Anderson. He had an older brother, Maxwell, and sister, Bernice. Anderson attended Little Rock (Pulaski County) public schools and graduated from Castle Heights Military Academy in Tennessee. He received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Auburn University in Alabama in 1929. In 1936, Anderson earned a Master of Architecture degree from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Anderson married Helen Venus McClain on December 25, 1931. They had one son, Bruce R. Anderson Jr. Anderson began his architectural career in …

Anderson, Frederick Tanqueray

Frederick Tanqueray Anderson was an early twentieth-century Arkansas watercolorist. Categorized as a romantic American Landscape artist, Anderson is known for his steamboat and landscape paintings. Anderson’s paintings were inspired by his boyhood memories of traveling down the Mississippi River with his grandfather on steamboats to New Orleans, Louisiana. According to a Memphis Commercial Appeal article dated May 20, 1945, many regarded Anderson as the leading river scenes painter in America. Frederick T. Anderson was born on July 1, 1846, on his grandfather’s Arkansas River plantation near New Gascony (Jefferson County). His parents were Richard Cuthbert Anderson, who was a physician, and Hortense Barraque Anderson. Anderson had one older sister, Julia. His grandfather, Antoine Barraque, was one of Arkansas’s more prominent …

Anderson, James (Lynching of)

On December 5, 1880 (one source gives the date as December 4), an African American man named James Anderson was lynched in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) for an alleged assault on Sophia Miller, the wife of butcher Joseph Miller. Joseph Miller, age twenty-eight, appears in the 1880 census, with his wife, Sophia, and two young daughters. It is impossible to identify James Anderson, as there were several young Black men by that name living in Jefferson County at the time. Accounts of the lynching appeared in the Arkansas Gazette on December 5 and in national newspapers as early as December 6. According to the Gazette, Joseph Miller had gone out early that morning, leaving the back door of the family …

Anderson, Joel Edward

Joel Anderson was a major figure at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) for over four decades at the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first centuries. Beginning as a member of the teaching faculty, he served in numerous administrative roles on his way to becoming chancellor, a post he held for thirteen years. In that time, he oversaw an impressive transformation of the campus and the school. Joel Edward Anderson Jr. was born on January 20, 1942, in Newport (Jackson County) to Joel E. Anderson Sr. and Norris Hall Anderson. He grew up on a farm east of Swifton (Jackson County). There, he received his early education while also playing on the basketball …

Anderson, William (Lynching of)

On July 8, 1906, an African American named William Anderson was hanged from a telephone pole just south of Tillar (Drew and Desha counties) for allegedly attacking Emily Crawford, a white woman, a few days earlier. According to the Arkansas Gazette, while there was a large Black population in the area, the “resident negroes…inclined to observe law and order and to give the white people as little trouble as possible.” Anderson, however, who was described as a “strange negro,” had recently arrived in the area; the Arkansas Democrat reported that he had come from Memphis. According to the Gazette, on Saturday, July 7, the seventeen-year-old Anderson attacked Emily Crawford, a “respected widow,” while she was alone at her home near …