Gender: Male - Starting with L

Lee, Burwell

Burwell Lee came to Arkansas Territory from Tennessee in 1830 as a preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church and a missionary to the Indians. Because he organized the Methodist Society at Batesville (Independence County) in 1835, which hosted the first session of the new Arkansas Conference of the church the following year, he is referred to as one of the fathers of the Methodist Church in Arkansas. Burwell Lee was born on October 20, 1809, in Davidson County, Tennessee. His father was Braxton Lee, who had come to Davidson County from Virginia around 1796. In Davidson County records, there is a marriage for Braxton Lee to Polly Hunter on May 20, 1808, although it is uncertain if these are Lee’s …

Lee, Clifton Phifer (Cliff)

Arkansas native Cliff Lee is a major league baseball pitcher. He has pitched in both the National and American Leagues, winning All-Star recognition in both circuits. Clifton Phifer Lee was born on August 30, 1978, in Benton (Saline County) to Steve Lee, who was a firefighter and one-time member of the Benton City Council, and his wife, Sharon Lee. Lee grew up in Benton and graduated from Benton High School in 1997. Following graduation, he was drafted by the Florida Marlins but decided to attend Meridian Community College in Meridian, Mississippi. Drafted in 1998 by the Baltimore Orioles, he again deferred, instead attending the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). The left-handed Lee had one solid season pitching …

Lee, Haeng Ung

Haeng Ung Lee was the founder of the American Taekwondo Association (which later became ATA Martial Arts), headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County). ATA has over 300,000 members worldwide, making it the largest organization in North America dedicated to the discipline of taekwondo. Haeng Ung Lee was born on July 20, 1936, in Manchuria in northeastern China. Little is known about his early life, but shortly after World War II, he and his family moved to Korea. He began training in the martial arts in 1953. Lee progressed rapidly, earning his first-degree black belt only a year later. Upon graduating from high school in 1956, Lee joined the Republic of Korea Army, serving as a martial arts instructor for military …

Lee, Hubert L.

Hubert L. Lee, who lived in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) as a child, was a soldier in the U.S. Army who received a Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in battle during the Korean War. Hubert L. Lee was born in Arburg, Missouri, on February 2, 1915, the son of railroad fireman Charles Lee and Beulah Lee. Five years later, they were living in North Little Rock’s Ward 4. The family later moved to Leland, Mississippi, and it was there that Lee was inducted into the U.S. Army during World War II. He served with distinction, winning a Bronze Star and Silver Star for heroism in fighting in North Africa and Italy. Lee remained in the army and …

Leflar, Robert Allen

Robert Allen Leflar was one of Arkansas’s most renowned legal scholars, a champion of racial equality, longtime dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville (Washington County), and president of two state constitutional conventions. Robert Leflar was born on March 22, 1901, in Siloam Springs (Benton County), the son of Lewis D. Leflar—who was a drayman, former deputy U.S. marshal in “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker’s court, and former Alma (Crawford County) town marshal—and Viva Mae Pilkenton of Siloam Springs. The oldest of eight children, Leflar later said that his mother, a high school graduate, was the chief influence on him and his siblings getting an education. Leflar worked his way through the University of Arkansas (UA), beginning …

Lemke, Walter John

Walter John Lemke established the department of journalism at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1928 and served as the head of the department until his retirement in 1959. The university named the department the Walter J. Lemke Department of Journalism in his honor in 1988. In addition, he founded several historical and journalistic organizations. Walter Lemke was born on January 6, 1891, in Wausau, Wisconsin, to Carl Lemke and Ulrika Block Lemke. Lemke attended the University of Wisconsin and the University of Indiana. He received his AB degree from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, which is near Cleveland, in 1911. The college later awarded him an honorary doctor of letters degree in 1962. He earned …

Lester, Julius

Julius Lester, who spent considerable time in Arkansas as a child, was an author, musician, photographer, and civil-rights activist. A longtime educator, he was recognized by numerous organizations and institutions for his artistic and literary efforts. Julius Lester was born on January 27, 1939, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Woodie Daniel Lester, who was a Methodist minister, and Julia Smith Lester. Lester spent his earliest years in Kansas City, Kansas, living there from 1941 to 1954. He moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1954 but spent most summers on the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) farm of his grandmother, who was the daughter of a former slave and a German Jew. Her father had immigrated to the United States and settled in …

Lewis, David Levering

David Levering Lewis is a Pulitzer Prize–winning American historian best known for his works on the African-American experience in the twentieth century. He has written biographies of two of the most important figures in the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. and W. E. B. Du Bois, as well as a reader on the Harlem Renaissance. In 1999, Lewis was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.” David Lewis was born on May 25, 1936, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the son of John H. Lewis, an educator and principal of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, and Urnestine (Bell) Lewis, who taught high school math. Lewis attended parochial school in Little Rock and then continued his education in Ohio and …

Lewis, Henry Jackson

Henry Jackson Lewis, who was born into slavery, has been called the first black political cartoonist. His drawings appeared in publications across the nation. H. J. Lewis was born in Water Valley, Mississippi, in 1837 or 1838. As a child, he fell into a fire, maiming his left hand and blinding his left eye. Nothing further is known about his youth, but by 1872, he was living in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where he worked as a laborer in the mid- to late 1870s. By 1879, he was selling drawings of city and Arkansas River scenes to the national publication Harper’s Weekly, and he later sold similar drawings to Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. On October 25, 1882, a Pine Bluff …

Lewis, Paul Tyrone

Paul Tyrone Lewis was an American artist who is remembered for the realism of his landscape paintings. In a career that spanned six decades beginning in the 1950s, Lewis created compositions that were skillfully executed and sought after throughout the United States and internationally. Tyrone Lewis, as he was known, was born on November 29, 1938, in Mena (Polk County) to Paul Goodwin Lewis and Wynogene Hubbard Lewis. He had one sister. Lewis’s parents met during the Great Depression while Paul was employed on a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project near Mena. Wynogene’s family had migrated to that area from Fort Worth, Texas, where her father, Hans Heron Hubbard, was a well-known and respected artist in the 1920s. Painting was …

Lewis, Sanford (Lynching of)

At midnight on March 23, 1912, a mob hanged Sanford Lewis from a trolley pole in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). He had been suspected of shooting Deputy Constable Andy Carr, who sustained a fatal wound above the eye. Although the Arkansas Gazette refers to this as the first lynching in Sebastian County, it was actually the first lynching of an African American there. The murder of a white man named James Murray in the county on December 6, 1897, was described in many media outlets as a lynching. Deputy Constable Andy Carr was probably the Andy Care [sic] listed on the census as living in Ward 4 in Fort Smith in 1910. Living with him were his wife, Della, and …

Lightfoot, Claude M.

Claude Lightfoot was an Arkansas-born Communist who became involved in politics after moving to Chicago, Illinois. A frequent candidate for public office in Chicago from the 1930s to the 1950s, Lightfoot represents the impact of the Great Migration out of Arkansas and both the possibilities and limitations of black liberation in northern cities. Claude M. Lightfoot was born on January 19, 1910, in Lake Village (Chicot County). His grandmother, who separated from her husband, acquired a farm of her own and raised her twelve children to adulthood. Shortly after Lightfoot’s birth, his parents moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County), where his father worked for a railroad company and his mother as a domestic worker, while young Claude stayed with his …

Lightfoot, G. P. F. (Lynching of)

In December 1892, African-American Baptist minister G. P. F. Lightfoot, referred to in most accounts as “Preacher Lightfoot,” was murdered by a group of African Americans in Jackson County in retaliation for taking their money and promising them nonexistent passage to Liberia. Interest in immigrating to Africa started early in the United States. The Back-to-Africa movement dates back to 1816, when the American Colonization Society (ACS) was established to help free blacks resettle in Africa. The Republic of Liberia was established in 1847 and was recognized by the U.S. government in 1864. Following the Civil War, many newly freed Arkansas slaves became interested in the movement, especially those in majority-black counties in the Arkansas Delta. The Liberian Exodus Arkansas Colony …

Lighton, Will

aka: William Rheem Lighton
In 1908, writer William Rheem (Will) Lighton bought land in Fayetteville (Washington County), named it Happy Hollow Farm, and used “scientific agriculture” ideas to turn it into a successful farm. Even more successful was an article, “The Story of an Arkansas Farm,” which was published in the Saturday Evening Post on January 22, 1910. The article resulted in a stream of curious visitors. By the time it was expanded into a book, Happy Hollow Farm (1914), it had attracted more than 200 back-to-the-land settlers to Fayetteville. Will Lighton was born on July 13, 1866, in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, the son of William and Lydia Rheem Lighton. He married Laura McMaken on April 8, 1890, in Atchison, Kansas, set up their …

Lile, James Buel

James Buel “The Arkansas Knifesmith” Lile is one of the most accomplished and famous custom knife makers in American history. He carved his first fixed-blade knife from wood at the age of eight, and by age eleven, he was grinding old files into fixed-blade knives. James Lile was born on August 22, 1933, in Russellville (Pope County) to Leona and Buel Lile. His father was a coal miner who later worked for Arkla after the mines closed, and his mother was a housewife who also worked twenty years at the Local International Shoe factory. In 1952, at the age of nineteen, Lile met and worked for Winthrop Rockefeller welding bull pens being built at the Mountain Top Ranch on Petit …

Lindquist, Evan Leroy

Evan Leroy Lindquist of Jonesboro (Craighead County) is an American artist who is renowned as an artist-printmaker and art educator. His works are in permanent collections of many major galleries across the United States and around the world. Evan Lindquist was born on May 23, 1936, in Salina, Kansas, to Elmer L. Lindquist and Linnette Shogren Lindquist. His father was a corporate officer for a chain of retail lumber firms, and his mother was a homemaker. In 1945, Lindquist’s family moved to Emporia, Kansas, where Lindquist built a calligraphy business while in junior high school, encouraged by his father, an expert in ornamental penmanship. The business included creating certificates and charters for national organizations. His calligraphy experience led to a …

Lindsey, Bruce Robert

Bruce R. Lindsey is a prominent Arkansas attorney and longtime friend and associate of Bill Clinton. Having first met Clinton when they both worked in the office of Senator J. William Fulbright, Lindsey went on to serve as one of the president’s top aides. Bruce Robert Lindsey was born on March 27, 1948, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Robert Sours Lindsey and Grace Grimme Lindsey. He has one sister. Lindsey’s father was one of the most influential attorneys in Little Rock, as well as a major figure in the city’s Presbyterian Church. Lindsey grew up in Little Rock and received his undergraduate degree from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, followed by a law degree from Georgetown University in Washington …

Lindsey, Donnie Lee, Sr.

Donnie Lee Lindsey, longtime bishop within the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) in Arkansas and noted businessman, founded the regionally famous Lindsey’s Barbecue in North Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2015. Donnie Lee Lindsey was born in Bluff City (Nevada County) on April 17, 1924, to Newton Lindsey and Anna Lindsey. His father was a sharecropper. By the 1930 census, he had one brother and four sisters. The family moved to the Maumelle (Pulaski County) area when Lindsey was four years old. In an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Lindsey described himself as a rebellious youth who dropped out of school, only returning at age seventeen to attend the …

Lindsey, Elijah (Eli)

The Reverend Elijah (Eli) Lindsey was an important figure in early Arkansas Methodism. At age eighteen, living near the present town of Jesup (Lawrence County), he traveled and organized the Spring River Circuit and is thus celebrated as the first to preach and spread the message of Methodism in Arkansas. Eli Lindsey was born in 1797 in Rutherford County, North Carolina, to James William Lindsey Jr. and Rachel Burkett Lindsey. His father fought with the patriots at the significant Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780. By 1790, these families had moved to Spartanburg County, South Carolina, and they resided in Rutherford County, North Carolina, by 1800. Lindsey’s family gradually moved to Christian County, Kentucky, where his uncle Carlton …

Linebarger, Clarence A.

Clarence A. Linebarger was the general manager and part-owner of Bella Vista (Benton County), a successful summer resort in northwest Arkansas, from 1917 to 1952. In addition to the day-to-day management, he designed most of the resort’s amenities, including more than 500 summer residents’ cottages, accommodating the owners’ specifications while preserving the natural landscape. C. A. Linebarger was born on August 17, 1889, in West Union, Indiana, to Samuel and Mary Linebarger. He was the third of three children. His family passed through Benton County later that year en route from Indiana to Crowley, Louisiana, where they became rice farmers. After his mother contracted tuberculosis, she asked her husband to take her to Bentonville (Benton County), because she was impressed …

Linton, Henri

Henri Linton has been recognized as one of the most talented artists working in the state of Arkansas. He has also served as chair of the art department at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). Henri Linton was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1944. After discovering his artistic talents early, he soon began painting and visiting museums. To buy art supplies, he took on odd jobs such as painting signs and shining shoes. After entering a national art contest as a teenager, he won a four-year scholarship to the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio. Linton earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Boston University and a master’s degree in art from the University of Cincinnati …

Liston, Sonny

aka: Charles Liston
Charles “Sonny” Liston was a noted boxer who briefly reigned as Heavyweight Champion after a first-round knockout against Floyd Patterson. However, his career was marred by criminal activity and, later, accusations of mob connections and throwing fights. Sonny Liston was born on May 8, probably 1932, to Tobe and Helen (Baskin) Liston, African-American sharecroppers in rural St. Francis County. He was one of many children—one account lists twenty-two siblings and half-siblings. Liston was raised on heavy farm work, many beatings, and with virtually no schooling. At the age of thirteen, he ran away to St. Louis, Missouri, following his mother, who had left earlier. There, he became a thug, committing various muggings and robbery. Soon caught (his crimes were inept, …

Little Rock College

Little Rock College was the second attempt by the Diocese of Little Rock to establish an institution of higher education. Andrew Byrne, Arkansas’s first Roman Catholic prelate, began St. Andrew’s College near Fort Smith (Sebastian County) in 1849, but it closed in 1861 due to the Civil War. John B. Morris, Arkansas’s third Catholic bishop, established Little Rock College using the wealth accumulated by his predecessor, Edward M. Fitzgerald, who died in 1907. Fitzgerald left so much to his successor that, in addition to the college, Morris eventually founded St. Joseph’s Orphanage in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), a diocesan newspaper, and a seminary. Little Rock College opened in September 1908, situated between 25th and 26th streets, and Gaines and State …

Little Rock Fortifications (Civil War)

Both Confederate and Union forces constructed fortifications to protect Arkansas’s capital between 1863 and 1865, with the Confederates concentrating their efforts on the north side of the river while Union works were built primarily south of Little Rock (Pulaski County). Following the Confederate defeat in the July 4, 1863, Battle of Helena, most of the Confederate troops in the state fell back to central Arkansas and braced for a Union offensive toward Little Rock. Major General Sterling Price reported that, in late July, “I commenced the construction of a line of rifle-pits and other defensive works on the north side of the Arkansas [River], and pushed them forward to completion as rapidly as I could.” The works stretched from Big …

Little Rock Uprising of 1968

What became known as the Little Rock Uprising of 1968 was triggered by the controversial killing of inmate Curtis Ingram at the Pulaski County Penal Farm. A subsequent community rally protesting the circumstances surrounding the killing and its investigation ended in violence. Three nights of unrest followed until Governor Winthrop Rockefeller imposed countywide curfews that finally brought the crisis to an end. The events ultimately led to changes in the previously discriminatory way that grand juries—which provided oversight for investigations at the penal farm—had been selected in Pulaski County. In August 1968, eighteen-year-old Curtis Ingram, who was African American, was arrested for a traffic violation and later charged with drug offenses. He was sent to the penal farm to pay …