Entries - 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)

In early May 1927, Little Rock (Pulaski County) experienced a wave of mob violence surrounding the lynching of an African American named John Carter. This 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 twelve-year-old white girl named Floella McDonald was discovered by a janitor in the belfry of the First Presbyterian Church in Little Rock. The next afternoon, police arrested the janitor and his seventeen-year-old mulatto son, Lonnie Dixon, for the murder. …

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 …

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 …

Clarke, Faye

Faye Clarke co-founded the Educate the Children Foundation, which was created to support rural and impoverished school districts with donations of books and other educational materials. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2002. Faye Wilma Robinson was born on August 6, 1931, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to Jerimah and Earnest (or Eariest) Robinson. In high school, she was an Arkansas National Merit Scholar and went on to study at Hampton Institute in Virginia. After graduation, she attended a one-year program in businesses at Radcliffe College taught by professors of the Harvard Business School, where women were not yet allowed; she was the first African-American woman in this program. She began working at Aramark, a company …

Claybrook Tigers Baseball Team

A black semi-professional baseball team located in eastern Arkansas during the 1930s, the Claybrook Tigers played and often beat some of the best Negro League teams around. The small Delta town known as Claybrook, in the southern part of Crittenden County, was an unlikely home for a competitive baseball team. It no longer exists today, but then it was the farming and logging operation of John C. Claybrook, a hard-working and enterprising man who became one of the most successful African-American businessmen in the region. Reportedly, Claybrook formed the team to entice his sports-loving son not to leave the farm for the city life he desired. By the early 1930s, Claybrook had built a stadium on the farm and formed …

Claybrook, John C.

John C. Claybrook was a lumberman, farmer, baseball team owner, and one of the most successful African-American businessmen of his time in the South. He built a town around his farming and logging operation in eastern Arkansas and eventually gained national attention for being among the first African Americans in the South since Reconstruction, if not the first, chosen to sit on a jury trying black men for the rape of a white woman. John Claybrook was born on June 11, 1872, in Florence, Alabama. His parents’ names and occupations are unknown. He ran away to Memphis when he was thirteen to find work, which he soon found as a laborer on riverboats. After renting and working some plantation land …

Clayton, Alonzo “Lonnie”

Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton reached stardom at age fifteen as the youngest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby. An African American, Clayton went on to become one of the highest-salaried riders on the East Coast circuit during the 1890s. He lived in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), where his earnings enabled him to build a Queen Anne–style home that the Arkansas Gazette described as the “finest house on the North Side” in early 1895. Surviving as the historic Engelberger House at 2105 Maple Street, the property (named for Swiss immigrant Joseph Engelberger, who bought it in 1912) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. Born in 1876 in Kansas City, Kansas, to Robert and Evaline Clayton, Lonnie …

Cleaver, Leroy Eldridge

Leroy Eldridge Cleaver was one of the best-known and most recognizable symbols of African-American rebellion in the 1960s as a leader of the Black Panther Party. In the 1970s, he became a born-again Christian and later an active member of the Republican Party. Eldridge Cleaver was born on August 31, 1935, in Wabbaseka (Jefferson County). His father, Leroy Cleaver, was a nightclub entertainer and waiter; his mother, Thelma Hattie Robinson Cleaver, taught elementary school. Many accounts portray Leroy Cleaver as a violent man who beat his wife. Eldridge Cleaver recalled those beatings as the beginning of his “ambition to grow up tall and strong, like my daddy, but bigger and stronger than he, so I could beat him to the …

Coffey, Cornelius Robinson

  Cornelius Robinson Coffey was the first African American to establish an aeronautical school in the United States. His school was also the only aviation program not affiliated with a university or college to become part of the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP). His pioneering efforts led to the integration of black pilots into the overall American aviation industries, both civilian and military. Cornelius R. Coffey was born in Newport (Jackson County) on September 6, 1903, to Henry Coffey and Ida Wright Coffey. In 1916, Coffey had his first experience riding in an aircraft and was convinced that aviation was his calling. In 1925, Coffey left Arkansas for Chicago, Illinois, to pursue a career in aviation by enrolling in an auto …

Coffin, Frank Barbour

Frank Barbour Coffin was an African-American pharmacist who owned and operated one of the earliest drug stores serving the black community of Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was also one of the country’s unnoted African-American poets of the nineteenth and twentieth century, barely remembered today for his two volumes of poetry and other works printed in various publications. F. B. Coffin was born on January 12, 1870, in Holly Springs, Mississippi, the son of Samuel and Josephine Barton Coffin. Holly Springs was a small town in northern Mississippi, about forty miles from Memphis, Tennessee. His mother died before he was twelve years old, leaving Coffin and at least four other siblings to be raised by their father, a farmer. Little …

Coggs, Granville Coleridge

Granville Coggs was a pilot in the United States Army Air Corps and was one of the Original Tuskegee Airmen. He later attended Harvard Medical School and became the first African American to serve as staff physician at the Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco, California. In 2001, he became a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Granville Coleridge Coggs was born on July 30, 1925, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to Dr. Tandy Washington Coggs and Nannie Hinkle Coggs. The family later moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County). His father was an educator who served as the president of Arkansas Baptist College from 1937 to 1955. Coggs attended Dunbar High School, graduating in 1942. Coggs took classes at …

Cole, Kevin Earlee

Kevin Earlee Cole, a Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) native, is one of the most renowned mid-career artists in Atlanta, Georgia; his works are widely collected, with Bill Cosby and Michael Jordan being notable collectors. Cole’s combinations of pastels mixed with primary, vibrant acrylics applied to twisting and curling canvases are a divergence in contemporary visual arts. His well-known “necktie” pieces are thematically linked to the history of African Americans in Pine Bluff, Tarry (Lincoln County), and Star City (Lincoln County)—areas that saw much racial violence during the early and middle 1900s. In 2018, he was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Kevin Cole was born on January 19, 1960, to Jessie Mae (McGlounce), a cafeteria manager for Pine …

Coleman, Ed “Sweat”

Ed Coleman was one of twelve African-American men accused of murder and sentenced to death following the Elaine Massacre of 1919; he was part of the U.S. Supreme Court case of Moore v. Dempsey. After brief trials, the so-called Elaine Twelve—six who became known as the Moore defendants and six who became known as the Ware defendants—were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Ultimately, the Ware defendants were freed by the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1923; after numerous legal efforts, the Moore defendants, including Coleman, were released in 1925. Little is known about Ed Coleman’s early life. He was born in Arkansas around 1855, likely in slavery, to Robert Coleman and Jane Kelley. Coleman next shows up in …

Colored Industrial Institute

The Colored Industrial Institute in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) was one of the first Catholic-supported schools for African-American children in Arkansas. The school was established by Father John Michael Lucey, a white Confederate veteran, who was considered progressive for speaking out against lynching and protesting efforts to pass separate coach legislation. Planning for the school began in May 1889. Lucey approached leading citizens of Jefferson County to fill the school’s board of directors. This integrated board included wealthy black Pine Bluff citizens, including Ferdinand (Ferd) Havis and Wiley Jones. Jones was also one of three members of the school’s executive committee and served as secretary. The other two executive committee members were Pine Bluff mayor J. W. Bocage and Reverend …

Cone, James Hal

James Hal Cone became known as the father of black liberation theology, which he described as a “theological identity that was accountable to the life, history, and culture of African-American people.” Cone often discussed the impact that growing up in Bearden (Ouachita County) and attending the Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church had on his life. Both powerfully influenced his thinking: Bearden for the pain and suffering inflicted on African Americans, and Macedonia as a place where he encountered Jesus. Cone published numerous books on black liberation theology and lectured at more than 1,000 universities and community organizations throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Born to Charles and Lucy Cone in Fordyce (Dallas County) on …

Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) is a civil rights organization founded in Chicago, Illinois, in 1942 that pioneered the use of nonviolent direct action tactics in the civil rights movement. Most notably, the organization gained national prominence in 1961 through sponsoring the Freedom Rides, which sought to test supposedly desegregated bus terminal facilities. Although CORE was a marginal presence in Arkansas compared to other civil rights organizations, it established a chapter in the state, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), that lasted from 1962 to 1965. CORE was an offshoot of the pacifist organization the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR). In 1942, it held some of the civil rights movement’s first sit-ins, targeting lunch counters in Chicago. In 1947, along with FOR, …

Conley, Michael Alex

Michael Alex Conley is a former basketball player and track and field athlete for the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). One of the most successful combination long and triple jumpers in history, he achieved career long jump bests of 8.46 meters outdoors (1996) and 8.31 meters indoors (1986), and triple jump bests of 17.87 meters outdoors (1987) and 17.76 meters indoors (1987). The latter stood as the world record until 1994. Ranked among the world’s top ten triple jumpers from 1983 to 1996, Conley claimed number one in 1984, 1986, 1989, 1992, 1993, and 1994. He ranked second in the world in the long jump in 1985. In all, Conley won thirty-three national and international horizontal jump …

Consolidated White River Academy

The Consolidated White River Academy arose in the late 1800s when several African-American church groups in the Brinkley (Monroe County) area wanted to create an academy offering African-American students the opportunity for a full high school education, rather than the mere tenth-grade education available to them in the area. The goal was to provide a top-notch Christian education in a boarding school environment following a modified version of Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute. The educational opportunities and convenient residential facilities attracted students from across the state and nation for over fifty years. The district academy project originated during the late nineteenth century with black Baptist churches in the Brinkley area. These churches worked to establish a high school, the original name of …

Contraband Camps

aka: Slave Refugee Camps
In 1862, as a response to Confederate use of slave labor against the Federal army in Arkansas, Union general Samuel R. Curtis drew on the authority of earlier “confiscation” acts to free black slaves for use in the Union army. Issuing certificates of freedom to hundreds of “contraband” fugitives (meaning escaped or Union-freed slaves), Curtis laid the foundation for emancipation in Arkansas, and he was one of the more determined Union military leaders in the belief that slaves should be freed. Word spread among Arkansas’s slaves, and when Curtis’s army arrived at Helena (Phillips County) in the summer of 1862, more than 2,000 came with him hoping for freedom and protection. Helena would be occupied by Federal forces through the …

Corbin, Joseph Carter

Joseph Carter Corbin, journalist, served as Arkansas state superintendent of public instruction during Reconstruction and was the founder and president of the first African-American institution of higher education in Arkansas. Joseph C. Corbin was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, on March 26, 1833, the eldest son of free black parents, William and Susan Corbin. He had eleven siblings. He attended school during the winter months, a common practice at the time. In 1848, Corbin traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, to assist Reverend Henry A. Adams as a teacher. He taught school for some years and then attended Ohio University at Athens. He graduated with a BA in art in 1853 and an MA in art in 1856. An honorary doctoral degree was …

Cotton Plant Academy

Cotton Plant Academy, located in Cotton Plant (Woodruff County), was a co-educational boarding school operated by the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen. This board, part of the “Northern” Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), was responsible for founding schools for African Americans across the South after the Civil War. The first Presbyterian schools for freed slaves in the South opened in the 1860s, but the board did not open schools in Arkansas until the 1880s, when a new presbytery had been established in the state and numbers of African Americans from the eastern states were resettling there. The Cotton Plant Academy started out in the old Jerry Clark home during the 1880s. Later, it was located in a small church near the …

Council for the Liberation of Blacks (CLOB)

The Council for the Liberation of Blacks (CLOB) was established in 1969 in Hot Springs (Garland County) and was active for less than two years. It was one of several grassroots civil rights organizations that emerged across the state during a period of unrest due to racial injustices such as segregated facilities, poor housing, and a lack of economic opportunities. The group was founded by John Paschal (1939–2001), a high school industrial arts teacher. Paschal, who taught at the all-black Langston High School in Hot Springs, was one of the first African-American teachers transferred to the newly integrated Hot Springs High School during the 1968–69 school year. CLOB got its start one night as Paschal and others—including Ralph Porter Jr., …

Council on Community Affairs (COCA)

The Council on Community Affairs (COCA) was an African-American civil rights leadership group in Little Rock (Pulaski County) that was active in the 1960s. Growing out of a need to provide coordinated black leadership in the city after the 1957 Central High School desegregation crisis, COCA was spearheaded by a group of young medical professionals. The group was careful to incorporate and bring together different figures and power bases within the black community. Through this coordinated leadership, COCA was successful in helping to desegregate Little Rock’s downtown facilities. Placing pressure on the Little Rock school board to move ahead more quickly with school desegregation, it also pressed for more and better political and economic representation for black citizens in the …

Coy, Edward (Lynching of)

On February 20, 1892, Edward Coy, a thirty-two-year-old African-American man, was burned at the stake in Texarkana (Miller County) before a crowd of approximately 1,000 people. Ida B. Wells, a journalist and prominent anti-lynching crusader, described Coy’s murder as one of the most shocking and repulsive in the history of lynching. Coy, described in press accounts as “mulatto,” was charged with a crime “from which the laws provide adequate punishment. Ed Coy was charged with assaulting Mrs. Henry [Julia] Jewell, a white woman. A mob pronounced him guilty, strapped him to a tree, chipped the flesh from his body, poured coal oil over him, and the woman in the case set fire to him.” According to the New York Times, …

Crenchaw, Milton Pitts

Milton Pitts Crenchaw, of the original Tuskegee Airmen, was one of the first African Americans in the country and the first from Arkansas to be trained by the federal government as a civilian licensed pilot. He trained hundreds of cadet pilots while at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute in the 1940s and was the catalyst in starting the first successful flight program at Philander Smith College in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from 1947 to 1953. His combined service record extends for over forty years of federal service from 1941 to 1983 with the U.S. Army (in the Army Air Corps) and eventually the U.S. Air Force. Milton Crenchaw was born on January 13, 1919, in Little Rock to the Reverend Joseph C. …

Crenshaw, George (Lynching of)

On September 2 or 3, 1885, an African-American man named George Crenshaw was taken from jail and hanged by a mob near Lewisville (Lafayette County) for allegedly murdering a young salesman named Harry W. Paup. According to the September 1 edition of the Arkansas Gazette, at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, August 28 (another report says August 29), a young salesman and “highly respected young gentleman” named Harry W. Paup was walking through a cotton field near the home of an elderly black man named George Crenshaw. Crenshaw’s dogs began to bark and alerted Crenshaw, described as a “blood-thirsty old demon.” Crenshaw grabbed his gun, and though another man, Mike Ross, tried to stop him, ran to the field, spotted Paup, …

Crittenden County Expulsion of 1888

In July 1888, a group of influential white citizens in Crittenden County expelled a number of prominent African-American citizens and county officials. Apparently weary of the fusion governments that had prevailed there for years, as well as fearful of the outcome of the upcoming September and November elections, they hoped their actions would intimidate black voters and ensure a victory for white Democrats. Following the Civil War, land agents began to recruit black laborers from around the South to work in the cotton fields. By 1870, the black population in Crittenden County had reached sixty-seven percent, the majority for the first time. The emergence of a black middle class tied to the Republican Party threatened the hegemony of the white …

Crockett, Woodrow Wilson

Miller County native Woodrow W. Crockett served as a combat pilot in both World War II and the Korean War. Entering the service as an artilleryman, Crockett transferred to Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute as an aviation cadet and became one of the pilots of the famous Tuskegee Airmen. Crockett remained in the service of his country for twenty-eight years. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1995. Woodrow Wilson Crockett was born on August 31, 1918, in Homan (Miller County). Nicknamed “Woody” as a child, he was the fifth of six children born to school teachers William Crockett and Lucindan Crockett. He grew up in Texarkana (Miller County) and then lived with his sister in Little Rock …

Crystal Bathhouse

The Crystal Bathhouse in Hot Springs (Garland County) was the first purpose-built bathhouse to exclusively serve the needs of African Americans in Arkansas. It opened in 1904 and became a destination for those who were attracted to the nationally known thermal waters of the Spa City during the era of the Jim Crow segregated South. The Crystal Bathhouse was located at 415 Malvern Avenue on Block 66 in the black business district of town. Two local contractors, Michael H. Jodd and Albert P. Aldrich, built the bathhouse. They chose architect John McCaslin to design a two-story brick building with parlors, dressing rooms, cooling rooms, tubs, vapor cabinets, restrooms, and eleven rooms for lodging accommodations. Externally, the building had double-hung sash …

Cunningham, Charles Franklin

Charles Franklin Cunningham Sr. was instrumental in the creation and leadership of the Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) and served as its executive director for thirty-seven years. In 1981, he became the first African-American mayor of Benton (Saline County). He served as mayor from 1981 to 1983. From 2003 to his death in 2017, he served as alderman for Benton’s Ward 2, which encompasses much of Benton’s Southside, including the communities of Christy Acres and the historic Ralph Bunche Community. Charles F. Cunningham was born on January 17, 1933, in South Pittsburg in Marion County, Tennessee, to Floyd S. Cunningham and Georgia Anna Cunningham. In 1952, he married Josie M. Slaughter. Following service in the U.S. Army, Cunningham earned a …