Race and Ethnicity: African American - Starting with C

Caldwell, Will, and John Thomas (Lynching of)

aka: John Thomas and Will Caldwell (Lynching of)
On September 10, 1895, an African-American man named Will Caldwell and an “old negro man” identified by some newspapers as John Thomas were lynched near Blytheville (Mississippi County) for allegedly murdering and robbing a woman named Mattie Rhea. An extensive search of records for Arkansas and neighboring states revealed no information about either Mattie Rhea or Will Caldwell. There was, however, a John Thomas living in Mississippi County in 1880. He was twenty-six years old and living in Pecan Point Township, in the very southeastern part of the county. He would have been forty-one at the time of the lynching, which may not qualify him for the sobriquet “old negro.” Living in the same township and working on a farm …

Campbell-Brown, Veronica

Veronica Campbell-Brown is a former University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) track and field athlete who specializes in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4×100-meter relay. A citizen of Jamaica, she is the most decorated Olympic athlete affiliated with the state of Arkansas, having won eight Olympic medals from 2000 to 2016. In addition to her Olympic accolades, Campbell-Brown has garnered numerous medals at the youth, junior, and senior levels of competition. In 2007, she became the first of eight track and field athletes to win an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championship title, in her case in the 100 meters, at all three competitive levels. Veronica Campbell was born on May 15, 1982, in Clarks Town, Trelawny, …

Canfield Race War of 1896

On Saturday, December 12, 1896, African-American workers at the Canfield Lumber Company in the small lumber town of Canfield (Lafayette County) were fired on by a mob of whites and forced to leave the area. This was part of a widespread pattern of intimidation of black laborers in southern Arkansas in the 1890s, a practice that seems to have reached a peak in 1896. There were incidents involving railroad workers in Polk County in August and on the Cotton Belt Railway line in Ouachita County in early December. Later in December, there was a similar incident at a sawmill in McNeil (Columbia County). These incidents were part of a larger pattern evident in southern Arkansas throughout the 1890s in which …

Carpenter’s Produce

Carpenter’s Produce is an agricultural enterprise based in Grady (Lincoln County) that supplies produce for both regional farmers’ markets and national grocery chains such as Walmart and Kroger. The Carpenter family has long been an important symbol of African-American success in the field of agriculture, especially in a time and place when many independent black farmers faced monumental difficulties in remaining solvent. Carpenter’s Produce was established by Abraham Carpenter Sr. and his wife, Katie. In 1969, Katie Carpenter planted a one-acre vegetable garden and began selling her produce locally. At the time, Abraham Carpenter, then almost forty years old, was working at Seagram’s Lumber Mill in nearby Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Using some of his earnings, he purchased thirty additional …

Carroll, Joe Barry

Joe Barry Carroll had an eleven-year career with the National Basketball Association (NBA), playing on the NBA All-Star team. Joe Barry Carroll was born on July 24, 1958, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), the tenth of thirteen children. He and his family stayed there until he was thirteen, when they moved to Denver, Colorado. Attending Denver East High School, he became a basketball star who caught the attention of college recruiters. He accepted a scholarship to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and played there from 1976 to 1980. During his tenure there, the seven-foot-tall Carroll became the only Purdue player to earn a “triple-double,” with sixteen points, sixteen rebounds, and eleven blocked shots. During his junior year, he helped …

Carter-Perry, June

June Carter-Perry is a former educator, diplomat, and U.S. State Department official. Her lengthy and multi-faceted diplomatic career included service as the U.S. ambassador to both Lesotho and Sierra Leone. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2016. June Carter was born on November 13, 1943, in Texarkana (Miller County). Her mother, Louise Pendleton Carter, was a Peace Corps volunteer in Malaysia. June Carter graduated from Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois, in 1965, earning a bachelor’s degree in history. She earned a master’s degree in European history from the University of Chicago in 1967. She soon married Fredrick M. Perry, who served as an official with both the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the …

Carter, Allen (Lynching of)

Sometime during the first week of August 1892, an African-American man named Allen Carter was lynched at Wynne (Cross County) for allegedly assaulting his fourteen-year-old daughter. While the method of the murder is not specified, brief reports from across the United States indicate that the mob that lynched him was composed entirely of African Americans. There exists insufficient documentary evidence to determine the identity of Carter, and reports differ as to when exactly Carter was lynched. According to the August 6 issue of the Daily Public Ledger, Carter was arrested on Tuesday, August 2. The mob later removed him from jail and lynched him. Other similar published accounts vary on the date of the lynching, placing it anywhere from August …

Carter, John (Lynching of)

aka: Lonnie Dixon (Execution of)
In early May 1927, Little Rock (Pulaski County) experienced a wave of mob violence surrounding the lynching of an African American man named John Carter, an event that was closely connected with the conviction and execution of a Black teen. Carter’s lynching and the rioting that followed is one of the most notorious incidents of racial violence in the state’s history. This event reveals much about the history of race relations in Little Rock, as well as the state’s struggle with its national image. The episode began on April 30, 1927, when the dead body of a white girl named Floella McDonald (described as anywhere between eleven and thirteen years of age) was discovered by a janitor in the belfry …

Carter, Vertie Lee Glasgow

Vertie Lee Glasgow Carter is a renowned educator whose doctorate in education paved her way into previously unattainable arenas for an African-American woman of her time in Arkansas. Over her long career in education, she influenced generations of teachers and revolutionized the way Arkansas applied employment and merit systems. She is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Vertie L. Glasgow was born on October 19, 1923, into the sharecropping family of Daisy James Glasgow, who was also a schoolteacher, and Thomas Glasgow in the Antioch community in Hempstead County. To buy books and pay tuition to Yerger High School in Hope (Hempstead County), she raised and sold pigs. After graduating from high school in 1942, she attended …

Carthon, Maurice

Maurice Carthon is a former professional football player who earned two Super Bowl rings along with serving as a coach for several teams in the National Football League (NFL). Before beginning his lengthy career in professional athletics, he was a top-rated football and basketball player during high school and college in Arkansas. Maurice Carthon was born on April 24, 1961, in Chicago, Illinois. He and his mother, Jessie Mae Carthon, moved to Osceola (Mississippi County), where he attended Osceola High School, a Class AAA school. Lettering in both basketball and football, he was a two-time high school All-Conference honoree in football, playing the position of tight end. He was also a two-year starter on the school’s basketball team. Carthon was …

Carver Gymnasium

The Carver Gymnasium, located at 400 Ferguson Street in Lonoke (Lonoke County), is the last remaining structure associated with the town’s first African-American school. The plain-traditional-style concrete block construction building was added to the National Register on September 23, 2009, under Criterion A, due to its significance to local African-American history. In 1889, Goodspeed’s history documented that Lonoke was home to two schools, one for white students and one for “colored people.” A total of 1,640 African-American students were recorded in the county. The African-American school consisted of a two-story frame structure. It provided educational opportunities for grades one through eight. Attendance was sporadic due to the vast majority of students living and working on farms. In the fall of …

Castoro, Laura Parker

Bestselling author Laura Parker Castoro has published more than forty novels across multiple genres with major publishing houses such as HarperCollins, Dell Books, Simon and Schuster, Berkley, Avon, Warner, MIRA, Kensington, Pocketbooks, and St. Martin’s Press. Under the name Laura Parker, she writes historical and contemporary romance, westerns, and sagas. She writes contemporary African American and women’s fiction as Laura Castoro. Under pen name D. D. Ayres, she created the bestselling romantic suspense series K-9 Rescue. Laura Parker was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on September 18, 1948, to Dr. David E. Parker and Mary Dell Parker Johnson. She has three brothers: David E. Parker Jr., Michael J. Parker, and Kenneth L. Johnson III. The family moved to Pine Bluff …

Catcher Race Riot of 1923

The December 28, 1923, assault and murder of a white woman in the Catcher community in Crawford County quickly ignited a firestorm of racial hatred that, within the span of a few days, exploded into the murder of an innocent black man, charges of night riding being leveled against eleven African Americans, and the exodus of all black families from Catcher, numbering at least forty. Two African-American men were sentenced to death and executed in relation to the murder, while a third was given life in prison, following trials that included dubious evidence offered by the prosecution. From the days of slavery, the township in which Catcher is situated, four miles southeast of Van Buren (Crawford County) in cotton-producing river …

Cates, Sam (Lynching of)

On September 12, 1917, a twenty-five-year-old African-American man named Sam Cates was lynched near England (Lonoke County) for allegedly harassing white girls and young women, including allegedly sending an improper note to the sister of Claude Clay. The exact identity of Sam Cates remains uncertain. According to marriage records, there were two men by the same or similar names living in Lonoke County around this time, although neither have ages exactly matching twenty-five in 1917. On July 3, 1910, twenty-one-year-old Sammie Kates married Mary Mathews (born around 1891) in England (which lies in the center of Lonoke County’s Gum Woods Township). According to 1910 census records, there was an African-American woman named Mary Matthews (born around 1893) living with her …

Caulder, Peter

Peter Caulder was born in Marion County, South Carolina, and was of African descent. The U.S. Army listed him as “a colored man.” In three U.S. censuses, he was categorized in race as “mulatto.” His life in Arkansas represents the success free blacks could achieve prior to their banishment by the state government. At the beginning of the War of 1812, seventeen-year-old Peter joined a state militia unit for three months. He was discharged without seeing any action in the war. When the British burned Washington DC in August 1814, Peter Caulder and his father, Moses Caulder, joined the Third U.S. Rifles and marched with the regiment to defend the capital. Four other Marion County mulattoes, friends and relatives of …

Centennial Baptist Church

The 1905 Gothic Revival Centennial Baptist Church, located at York and Columbia streets in Helena-West Helena (Phillips County), was listed as a National Historic Landmark on July 31, 2003. The building serves as a physical symbol of the work of the Reverend Elias Camp Morris. Morris dedicated his life to furthering the religious, political, and societal achievements of African Americans locally and nationally through his work as president and founder of the National Baptist Convention. Centennial Baptist is the only remaining structure associated with the productive life of Morris, who was pastor of the congregation in an earlier building on the site in 1879 and continued serving at the 1905 Centennial Baptist Church until his death in 1922. Morris’s outreach …

Central High School, Desegregation of

aka: Crisis at Central High
aka: Little Rock Desegregation Crisis
In its 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public education was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. As school districts across the South sought various ways to respond to the court’s ruling, Little Rock (Pulaski County) Central High School became a national and international symbol of resistance to desegregation. On May 22, 1954, the Little Rock School Board issued a statement saying that it would comply with the Court’s decision, once the court outlined the method and time frame for implementation. Meanwhile, the board directed Superintendent Virgil Blossom to formulate a plan for desegregation. In May 1955, the school board adopted the Phase Program …

Charleston Schools, Desegregation of

Much has been written about the Little Rock School District desegregation in 1957. However, the Charleston Public School District quietly and successfully integrated first through twelfth grades, without any publicity until about three weeks after school had opened for the fall term in 1954. Charleston was the first school district in the former Confederate states to integrate all twelve grades, and because of this, Charleston School District has been named a National Commemorative Site by the U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service. Following the May 17, 1954, U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas that deemed state laws mandating public school segregation unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, …

Chicot County Lynching of 1836

aka: Bunch (Lynching of)
According to the Arkansas Gazette, an African American identified only as Bunch was hanged in Chicot County in August 1836. The incident was also reported in a number of newspapers across the United States. According to the Gazette, Bunch, perhaps a member of the free black population in Chicot County, attempted to vote, but the judges turned him back because he was black. Bunch “took umbrage” at this and “resorted to violent measures.” In the midst of the fracas that followed, one Dr. Webb, “a highly respectable citizen,” was stabbed multiple times and was expected to die. Local citizens were so incensed that they promptly hanged Bunch. The Indiana American, quoting the Louisville Journal, reported that Bunch had a copy …

Chicot County Race War of 1871

aka: Chicot County Massacre
In late 1871, Chicot County was taken over by several hundred African Americans, led by state legislator and county judge James W. Mason. The murder of African-American lawyer Wathal (sometimes spelled as Walthall) Wynn prompted the area’s black citizens to kill the men jailed for their role in the murder and take over the area. Many white residents fled, escaping by steamboat to Memphis, Tennessee, and other nearby river towns. Like the Black Hawk War that occurred in Mississippi County the following year, the situation arose, in part, from the radical wing of the Republican Party exercising its power in choosing local officials. Both Mississippi and Chicot counties’ populations were primarily black, with blacks outnumbering whites four to one in Chicot County. …

Christ Church Parochial and Industrial School

Christ Church Parochial and Industrial School was a private school for African-American children operated in Forrest City (St. Francis County) by the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas from 1923 until 1968. It was closely related to Christ Church Mission, an African-American congregation founded in 1921. The mission and school were founded by the Right Reverend Edward T. Demby, the African-American suffragan (assistant) bishop for “Colored Work” in the Diocese of Arkansas and in the southwestern province of the national Episcopal Church. Bishop Demby sought to build a thriving African-American ministry in eastern Arkansas and also saw the need for quality education in academic and vocational skills for the black children of Forrest City and the surrounding county. He requested and received …

Clarendon Lynching of 1898

On August 9, 1898, Manse (or Manze) Castle, Will Sanders (Saunders), Sanders’s mother Lorilla (Rilla) Weaver, Dennis Ricord (Record, Rikard), and Susie Jacobs—all African American—were lynched in Clarendon (Monroe County) because of their complicity in the murder of prosperous merchant John T. Orr. Rilla Weaver was the cook in the Orr household, and Susie Jacobs worked there as a maid. Rachael Morris, a “prominent young Jewess” who had also been implicated in the plot, escaped and was spared. Orr’s wife, Mabel, who had instigated the murder, lay fatally ill in the nearby jail, having taken poison; she was eventually to die in the jail. With her was the Orrs’ only child, three-year-old Neva. As horrifying as this story is, the …

Clark, Mamie Katherine Phipps

Hot Springs (Garland County) native Mamie Phipps Clark was the first African-American woman to earn a Doctor of Philosophy degree in psychology from Columbia University. The research she did with her husband was important in the success of the 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in which the United States Supreme Court declared the doctrine of “separate but equal” with regard to education to be unconstitutional on account of such separation generating “a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community” on the part of African-American students. Mamie Phipps was born on October 18, 1917, in Hot Springs to British West Indies native Harold H. Phipps, a physician, and Kate Florence Phipps, who assisted …

Clark, Moses Aaron

Moses Aaron Clark rose from slavery to become one of the most successful black Arkansans of his time. Elected as a Helena (Phillips County) alderman during Reconstruction, Clark became a lawyer and was one of Arkansas’s first black justices of the peace. After Reconstruction, Clark became arguably the most important black Masonic leader in Arkansas. For more than a quarter of a century, he led the Arkansas Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masons, one of the oldest and most prestigious African American fraternal orders. He was also a major Masonic figure on the national stage. As a prosperous Lee County real estate owner, planter, and businessman during the post-Reconstruction era, for forty years, Clark reached statewide audiences through annual travels and speeches in …