Entries - Race and Ethnicity: African American - Starting with F

Fargo Agricultural School

Before the state of Arkansas made public funds available for segregated schools for black children, Floyd Brown, a graduate of Tuskegee Institute, founded and operated the Fargo Agricultural School (FAS) outside Brinkley (Monroe County). From 1920 to 1949, the private residential school offered “training for the head, hands and heart” and high school educations for hundreds of black youth at a time when the United States’ black population averaged five years or less of formal schooling. In early twentieth-century Arkansas, African-American children were seldom educated beyond the primary grades. In the 1920s and 1930s, most black Southerners were sharecroppers indebted to white landowners to whom they gave a share of their crops for rent. To supplement the family income, women …

Farmer, John (Lynching of)

On July 19, 1891, an African-American man named John Farmer was lynched in Chicot County for allegedly murdering a prominent local planter named C. C. Buckner. John Farmer may be the same person who was living with his grandmother, Lou Gibson, in the household of another African American, Jack Gillis, in Mason Township of Chicot County in 1880; his grandmother was a servant, and fifteen-year-old Farmer was a farm laborer. This would mean that he was twenty-six at the time he was lynched. According to Paul R. Hollrah’s History of St. Charles County, Missouri (1765–1885), C. C. Buckner was Charles Creel Buckner, born in Kentucky in 1850 to George Roberts Buckner and Harriet Creel Buckner. C. C. Buckner graduated from …

Fayetteville Schools, Desegregation of

Between 1954 and 1965, Fayetteville (Washington County) underwent the gradual integration of all primary and secondary schools. Though the Fayetteville School District (FSD) was quick to integrate at the high school and junior high levels, new state laws and concerns from the Fayetteville School Board slowed the speed of integration at the elementary level. In the first few weeks of its efforts, however, Fayetteville was presented in the media as the first city in the former Confederacy to desegregate its schools; Charleston (Franklin County) schools had done so earlier, but officials and residents there worked to keep it secret from the outside world for several weeks. Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education of …

Fifty-seventh Regiment, United States Colored Troops (US)

aka: Fourth Arkansas Infantry (African Descent)
The Fifty-seventh regiment of United States Colored Infantry began its service as the Fourth Arkansas Infantry (African Descent). Recruited and organized at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Helena (Phillips County), the regiment mustered into Federal service on December 2, 1863, and served with the Seventh Corps in the Department of Arkansas. Thomas D. Seawell received a commission as the regiment’s colonel on August 10, 1863, after previous service throughout Mississippi as captain of Company E in the Tenth Missouri Infantry. He served until the end of May 1864 and received a brevet promotion to brigadier general on March 13, 1865. The Bureau of Colored Troops, commonly known as the United States Colored Troops (USCT), was organized …

First Arkansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment (African Descent) (US)

aka: Forty-sixth Regiment U.S. Colored Troops
In April 1863, an organization of African-American troops was commenced in the Mississippi River Valley under the personal supervision of the adjutant-general of the army, Lorenzo Thomas. His first regiment was mustered into service on May 1, 1863, as the First Arkansas Volunteers of African Descent, designated the Forty-sixth Regiment U.S. Colored Troops on May 11, 1864. The First Arkansas would be one of four regiments of African Americans that was raised in Helena (Phillips County), a fortified city and naval port on the Mississippi River. Arkansas would be credited with 5,526 men in six regiments of African descent for Federal service. Allowing African-American men to serve was due in part to the Emancipation Proclamation and the Militia Act of …

First Baptist Church (Little Rock)

aka: EMOBA
aka: Museum of Black Arkansans and Performing Arts Center
The historic building of First Baptist Church of Little Rock (Pulaski County) is located at the corner of 12th and Louisiana streets just south of downtown. Various congregations of First Baptist worshiped in locations around the city throughout the 1800s. In 1889, First Baptist purchased a new lot and began construction on a large brick church at the historic site of 12th and Louisiana streets. The current building was built on the same site in 1941–42 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 21, 1994. In 1974, the First Baptist congregation moved to west Little Rock. The buildings on Louisiana remained unused until 1993, when Ernestine (Ernie) Dodson purchased the buildings on Louisiana to create …

Fisher, Derek Lamar

Derek Fisher is one of the most successful basketball players to hail from Arkansas. After an exemplary high school and college career in Little Rock (Pulaski County), he won five championships as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He also set an NBA record for participation in the most playoff games at 259. In 2011, he was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Derek Lamar Fisher was born in Little Rock on August 9, 1974, to John and Annette Fisher. He has an older half brother, Duane Washington, who also played in the NBA, and a younger sister. The Fishers lived on West 22nd Street in Little Rock. Derek attended Wilson …

Fisher, Isaac

Isaac Fisher was a prominent African-American educator in the early part of the twentieth century. A protégé of famed black educator and leader Booker T. Washington, Fisher served as president of Branch Normal College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff—UAPB) in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) from 1902 to 1911. Isaac Fisher was born on January 18, 1877, on a plantation named Perry’s Place in East Carroll Parish, Louisiana. His parents were former slaves; little is known about them beyond the fact that they had sixteen children, the last of whom was Isaac. In 1882, the family was forced to live for six months in the plantation’s cotton gin following a levee break on the Mississippi River, an experience …

Fleming, Sam (Lynching of)

On May 6, 1907, an African-American man named Sam Fleming—who was reportedly from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County)—was hanged at McGehee (Desha County) for winning a fight with a white bartender named Henry Vaughan. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Fleming was a “former Pine Bluff negro” who had lived in McGehee for several years. He was working in a saloon for black patrons owned by a man named Hellworth. Fleming had supposedly been in frequent trouble in Pine Bluff, once throwing a glass at a liquor dealer named Edward Wertheimer and wounding him in the head. Next door to Fleming’s workplace was a saloon for whites, also owned by Hellworth, where Henry Vaughan worked. Fleming and Vaughan had a fight, and …

Flemming, Owen (Lynching of)

On June 8, 1927, a mob murdered Owen Flemming, an African-American man, near Mellwood (Phillips County). At the time of the lynching, Arkansas was experiencing unprecedented flooding. The Flood of 1927 remains the most destructive in Arkansas history, covering about 6,600 square miles and inundating thirty-six of the state’s seventy-five counties. Many black citizens who lived along the Mississippi River and other flooding waterways were forced to work on the levees, often at gunpoint. One of these forced workers was Owen Flemming (or Fleming, according to some accounts). There is little information available about Flemming, but he is described in several articles as a “prominent black man.” According to the Arkansas Gazette, however, Flemming had a bad reputation. Officials at …

Flowers, Beulah Lee Sampson

Beulah Lee Sampson Flowers was an African-American educator, community leader, political activist, and businesswoman who was also a mentor to Maya Angelou. Beulah Sampson was born on January 10, 1883, in Hempstead County, Arkansas. Her parents, John Sampson Sr. and Frances Johnson Sampson, were ex-slaves and farmers who lived in the Ozan and Mine Creek townships of Hempstead County. According to the Sampson-Flowers oral tradition, Beulah was the youngest child of approximately twenty-three full and half siblings. Family members debate the exact number of her siblings. She received a public school education in Hempstead County and attended Bowen Seminary in Clow (Hempstead County). Sampson completed her education at Williams Industrial College, a vocational training school for African Americans, in Little …

Flowers, Cleon

Cleon Aurelius Flowers Sr., an African-American physician from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), was reported to be the first physician in the country to deliver viable conjoined twins successfully during a home birth. During his fifty-nine-year career as a physician, he earned a reputation as a compassionate and generous healthcare provider in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County. Cleon Aurelius Flowers was born in Stamps (Lafayette County) on July 26, 1913. His father, Alonza William (A. W.) Flowers, was a laborer in sawmills who later became an insurance agent for Universal Life Insurance Company, and his mother, Beulah Sampson Flowers, was a teacher, community leader, and political activist. His parents also owned and operated the A. W. Flowers and Sons grocery store …

Flowers, William Harold

William Harold Flowers was a lawyer, minister, social and political activist, and one of the leading figures in the civil rights movement in Arkansas in the 1940s. He was the first African-American special circuit judge in Jefferson County and a president of the African-American National Bar Association. He was also active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the state, serving as president of the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) branch and as president of the state conference of branches. Born on October 16, 1911, in Stamps (Lafayette County), William Harold Flowers was the son of Alonza (often spelled Alonzo) Williams Flowers Jr., a businessman, and Beulah Lee Sampson, a schoolteacher. He was the eldest of …

Forrest City Riot of 1889

In the 1888 election, the Union Labor Party, which included farmers of the Agricultural Wheel, allied with the Republicans to challenge the Democrats. Aware of black Arkansans’ important electoral support of this movement, white Democrats responded by launching an effort to end African Americans’ political participation. In St. Francis County in eastern Arkansas, which had become a black-majority county by 1890, the Wheel/Republican alliance became politically powerful. In 1888, county Union Laborites and Republicans formed a fusion ticket to challenge the previously dominant Democrats. Much to the Democrats’ dismay, three black Republicans captured the offices of county assessor, treasurer, and coroner, and white Union Labor candidates won the offices of sheriff, county clerk, and county judge. Shortly after the election, …

Foster, Thomas P. (Murder of)

In 1942, during World War II, a Little Rock (Pulaski County) police officer shot and killed Sergeant Thomas P. Foster. Foster, an African American from North Carolina, had been inducted into the army in May 1941. He was shot while trying to investigate the police beating of a soldier in his company. On March 22, 1942, a group of African-American soldiers from Company D of the Ninety-second Engineers stationed at Camp Joseph T. Robinson went to Little Rock’s African-American business and recreational district at Gaines and West 9th Street in search of off-post entertainment. One black soldier, Private Albert Glover, was arrested by white military police officers for public drunkenness. Little Rock police officers Abner J. Hay and George Henson …

Fox, Joseph (Joe)

Joseph (Joe) Fox was one of twelve African-American men accused of murder following the Elaine Massacre of 1919. After brief trials, the so-called Elaine Twelve—six who became known as the Moore defendants and six (including Fox) 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 were released in 1925. Joe Fox was born on October 8, 1897, in Louisiana to Sides Fox and Annie Fox. By the 1910 census, the twelve-year-old lived with his parents as an only child in East Carroll, Louisiana. He worked with his parents on the farm as a sharecropper. …

Fox, Warren (Lynching of)

On July 9, 1915, an African-American man named Warren Fox was lynched in Crittenden County for allegedly murdering a white man named John Millett. There is almost no information available on the principals in this incident. The Arkansas Gazette identified Millett as a “Frenchman and gardener” who worked for G. W. Sims on his plantation at the Crittenden county community of Kanema. Although the Gazette noted that Millett had previously been in Caruthersville, Missouri, and Johnson City, Illinois, he is not listed in census records for Arkansas, Missouri, or Illinois. Similarly, there is no record of an appropriate Warren Fox in Arkansas census records. George W. Sims, however, is well known. He owned extensive property in Crittenden County and worked …

Franklin, Monroe (Lynching of)

On August 19, 1912, an African-American man named Monroe Franklin was hanged in Russellville (Pope County) for an alleged attack on an unidentified white woman. Officials believed that a second black man, Pet (sometimes referred to as Pete or Pit) Grey, was also involved. Although the Arkansas Democrat described the lynching as the first in Pope County, research indicates that it was at least the third. John Hogan was lynched there in 1875, followed by Presley Oats in 1897. There is some possible information available on Franklin and Grey. Newspapers reported that Franklin had recently come into the area from Oklahoma. In 1910, there was a twenty-nine-year-old African American named M. F. Franklin living in Bearden Township, Okfuskee County, Oklahoma, …

Frederick, Bart (Lynchings Related to the Murder of)

On January 7, 1898, in Little Bay (Calhoun County), African-American men Charley Wheelright (or Wheelwright) and A. A. Martin were lynched for the alleged murder of Bart Frederick, a white man. Jim Cone, another suspect in the case, was probably lynched around the same time. Six months later, Goode Gray (a.k.a. Tobe Gray) was lynched at Rison (Cleveland County) for the same crime. According to the Arkansas Gazette, Bart Frederick was murdered in the first week of January while he was operating a handcart on the Cotton Belt Railroad near Kingsland (Cleveland County), where he was a waterman (a worker who supplied water to the railroad tanks). A letter written by Dr. William Buerhive to Bart Frederick’s brother in Michigan, …

Free Blacks

aka: Free Negroes
The terms “Free blacks” or “Free Negroes” refer to people of African descent in the United States who were neither enslaved nor subject to the ownership of another person prior to the Civil War, after which slavery was abolished. Blacks were first documented as coming to Arkansas in the eighteenth century when the French brought slaves with them, and white American settlers in the following decade continued the practice of slavery. Other blacks passed through the region with Native Americans during the period of Indian Removal, both as free blacks and as slaves. Free blacks seem to have first appeared in Arkansas in 1803, when officials at Arkansas Post recorded 107 slaves and two free blacks in the state. By …

Freedmen’s Bureau

aka: Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands
Congress established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands in March 1865 to help four million African Americans in the South make the transition from slavery to freedom and to help destitute white people with food and medical supplies in the dire days at the end of the Civil War. Headed by General Oliver Otis Howard, the Freedmen’s Bureau was supervised in Arkansas by assistant commissioners General John W. Sprague (April 1865–September 1866), General Edward O. C. Ord (October 1866–March 1867), and General Charles H. Smith (March 1867–May 1869). The bureau attempted to help Arkansas’s estimated 110,000 slaves become truly free as the Civil War ended. Seventy-nine local agents (thirty-six civilians and forty-three army officers) labored from 1865 to …

Freedmen’s Schools

Freedmen’s schools in Arkansas were created as early as 1863 in areas occupied by Union forces to provide for the education of newly freed slaves during the Civil War and in the Reconstruction period that followed. These schools were first run by teachers from the American Missionary Association (AMA) and the Quakers—particularly the Indiana Yearly Meeting of Friends. Early schools existed in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Helena (Phillips County), all areas with large populations of freed slaves. The federal government soon became involved in providing education for the freed slaves, and in 1865 the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (known as the Freedmen’s Bureau) assumed responsibility for educating former slaves. AMA and Quaker …

Freedom Rides

The Freedom Rides were a tactic employed by civil rights demonstrators in 1961 to place pressure on the federal government and local leaders to end segregation in interstate transportation facilities. Ultimately, the Freedom Rides in Little Rock (Pulaski County) led the local African-American and white communities to address the lingering issue of segregation in the city. In 1947, the national civil rights organization the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) held its Journey of Reconciliation to test integrated interstate transportation on buses ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1946 Morgan v. Virginia decision. The journey involved an interracial team of bus passengers traveling through upper South states to make sure the law was being implemented. Their journey met with mixed results. …

Fuller, Bennie

Bennie Fuller is the all-time leading scorer in Arkansas boys’ high school basketball history and ranks fourth on the national scoring list (as of 2015). Fuller scored 4,896 points at the Arkansas School for the Deaf in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from 1968 to 1971. In 1971, Fuller scored 102 points in a game against Leola (Grant County). Fuller is third nationally on the per-game scoring average list (50.9 points per game during the 1970–71 season). Bennie Fuller was born on March 13, 1951, the son of Tammy Fuller, who worked at the Pine Bluff Arsenal, and Birdie Missouri Fuller. Fuller grew up near Hensley (Pulaski County), where he learned to shoot a basketball into a hoop made from a …

Fuqua, Lela Rochon

Lela Rochon Fuqua, whose professional name is Lela Rochon, has appeared in nearly fifty movies and television shows, starring alongside some of Hollywood’s elite actors, including Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Gene Hackman, Whitney Houston, Timothy Hutton, Eddie Murphy, and Tupac Shakur. She is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. She was born Lela Rochon Staples in Torrance, California, on April 17, 1964, to Samuel Staples and Zelma Staples of Camden (Ouachita County). Her parents, both alumni of Lincoln High School, attended Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College, now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). Her father graduated from Arkansas AM&N and went on to own and operate Aladdin Enterprises, a graphic-arts business in California, from …

Furbush, William Hines

William Hines Furbush was an African-American member of the Arkansas General Assembly and the first sheriff of Lee County. His political career began in the Republican Party at the close of Reconstruction and ended in the Democratic Party just as the political disfranchisement of African Americans in the post-Reconstruction era began. William Furbush was born in Carroll County, Kentucky, in 1839 and was often described as a mulatto. Nothing is known of his parentage or childhood, but judging from his literacy and scripted handwriting, he received an early and formal education. Around 1860, Furbush is known to have operated a photography studio in Delaware, Ohio. In March 1862, he traveled to Union-controlled Helena (Phillips County) on the Kate Adams, where …