Entries - Race and Ethnicity: White - Starting with K

Kaplan, Philip Edwin

Philip Edwin Kaplan is a noted lawyer living in Little Rock (Pulaski County). As a nationally known attorney focusing on civil and human rights, he helped inmates in the Arkansas prison system fight unjust treatment. He also argued cases against the teaching of creationism in Arkansas’s public schools and in support of a professor who lost his job for being a communist. Philip Kaplan was born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, on January 4, 1938, and grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts, with his parents and one brother. He studied government at Harvard University and graduated in 1959. He graduated from the University of Michigan with an LLB degree in 1962. He was licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts but soon relocated to …

Kaplan, Regina

Nurse, teacher, and healthcare innovator Regina Kaplan was the hospital administrator and director of the nursing school at the Leo N. Levi Memorial Hospital in Hot Springs (Garland County) for thirty-five years. She was active in national and community organizations, and has been called Arkansas’s “Lady with the Lamp.” Regina Kaplan was born on May 12, 1887, in Memphis, Tennessee, the third of five children of German immigrants Gershon Kaplan and Adella Hannah Traube Kaplan. Her father had been a school teacher in Germany. The family moved to Denver for her mother’s health. Unable to afford medical school to become a doctor, at age seventeen, Kaplan entered Denver’s Mercy Hospital Training School for Nursing. She graduated in 1908 at the …

Kastor, Deena

Deena Kastor is a long-distance runner who was named All-American at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). She is an Olympic medalist for the marathon, holds American records in both the marathon and half-marathon, and is an eight-time national cross-country champion. She was named the top women’s marathoner in the world by Track and Field News magazine in 2006. Kastor is renowned for her courage after a freak mishap during the World Cross-Country Championships in 2000. Deena Michelle Drossin was born on February 14, 1973, in Waltham, Massachusetts, later moving to Agoura Hills, California. She began long-distance running at age thirteen, breaking the 3,000-meter national record and reigning as the two-time National Cross Country Champion in the …

Kavanaugh, William Marmaduke

William Marmaduke Kavanaugh was briefly a U.S. senator for Arkansas after the death of incumbent Jeff Davis. In addition, Kavanaugh also served as managing editor of the Arkansas Gazette from 1890 to 1896, sheriff and tax collector for Pulaski County from 1896 to 1900, probate and county judge from 1900 to 1904, and member of the National Democratic Committee from Arkansas from 1912 to 1915. William M. Kavanaugh was born on March 3, 1866, near Eutaw in Greene County, Alabama, to the Reverend Hubbard Hinde Kavanaugh and Anna Kimbrough Kavanaugh; he was one of six children. His father was a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and chaplain of the Orphans Brigade, which was the only Confederate brigade from …

Kays, Victor Cicero (V. C.)

Victor Cicero (V. C.) Kays was the founding president of the First District State Agricultural School, which evolved into Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). During his thirty-two-and-a-half-year tenure, Kays guided the institution through trying circumstances and led its transformation from a regional agricultural training school to a college that offered four-year academic degree programs. He was successful despite hardships that were magnified by the impact of two world wars, the Great Depression, meager public funding, and a fire that consumed the college’s main building. V. C. Kays was born on July 24, 1882, in Magnolia, Illinois, one of six children of John A. Kays and Mary Alice Kays. His father was a farmer. After finishing high school …

Keith, Jeff

Vocalist Jeff Keith is best known for his work as lead singer of the popular American “hair metal” band Tesla, which he joined in 1982. Although Keith spent most of his life in northern California and the small town of Idabel in McCurtain County, Oklahoma, he was born in Arkansas in Texarkana (Miller County). Keith has performed on numerous tours with artists such as Alice Cooper, Def Leppard, Poison, Van Halen, David Lee Roth, and Led Zeppelin. He is also known for his support of Toys for Tots, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Nor Cal Clean and Sober Living through his annual Ride for Reason concerts. Jeffrey Lynn Keith was born on October 12, 1958, in Texarkana. When Keith was …

Kell, George Clyde

George Clyde Kell was a professional baseball player, announcer, and businessman and is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. A lifelong resident of the small Arkansas town in which he was born, Kell also served for ten years as a member of the state’s Highway Commission and was campaign chairman for Dale Bumpers in the 1970 gubernatorial race. George Kell was born August 23, 1922, in Swifton (Jackson County) to Clyde and Alma Kell. His father, a barber, was a pitcher on the local semiprofessional baseball team, and Kell and his two younger brothers grew up playing the game. After high school, Kell began studying at Arkansas State College (now …

Kennedy, James (Lynching of)

James Kennedy was a white man lynched in Dallas County in 1866, apparently for his open Unionist leanings. His murder shows the risks that many people who had allied with the Union during the Civil War faced in parts of Arkansas in the immediate postwar period, when pro-Confederate vigilantes perpetrated with impunity a number of assassinations and attacks under the guise of lawfulness. The August 3, 1866, lynching of forty-four-year-old James Kennedy and other men made news in the August 10, 1866, Little Rock Daily Gazette (under which name the Arkansas Gazette then operated) as follows: “We learn from a reliable source that on Wednesday night last a party of ten or twelve men went to the residence of James …

Kennedy, John

John Kennedy was a Union artilleryman who won a Medal of Honor for gallantry in the 1864 Battle of Trevilian Station in Virginia. He spent the last part of his life in Arkansas and is buried in Oakland and Fraternal Cemetery in Little Rock (Pulaski County). John Kennedy was born on May 14, 1834, in County Cavan, Ireland. Immigrating to the United States, he enlisted in the Second U.S. Artillery, Battery M, on December 16, 1857, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, committing to a five-year term of service. Kennedy had served during the 1858 Utah Expedition before the Civil War began and was involved in many actions with Battery M in the Eastern Theater during the Civil War. Kennedy and the Second …

Kennedy, Jon

Jon Kennedy served as a political cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat from 1941 to 1943 and again from 1946 to 1988, totaling nearly fifty years, one of the longest employments with a single newspaper in the nation. Kennedy was Arkansas’s first full-time professional newspaper artist, and his cartoons highlighted Arkansas and world topics, won numerous awards, and were featured in national newspapers including the New York Times. Jon Kennedy was born on August 19, 1918, in Springfield, Missouri, to Brownlow Kennedy, who was a telegraph operator for the railroad, and Ida Kennedy, who was a homemaker. At age seventeen, and while still in high school, he began working as an artist for the Springfield Leader Press, where he was employed …

Keohane, Nannerl Overholser

Nannerl Overholser Keohane has been a leader in American higher education, first as president of Wellesley College and then as president of Duke University. Both symbolically, as a pioneering female leader, and substantively in the way she shaped the direction of those two institutions, Keohane has had a major impact on the college and university landscape into the twenty-first century. Nannerl Overholser was born on September 18, 1940, in Blytheville (Mississippi County). The daughter of Grace Overholser and James Overholser, who was a Presbyterian minister, she was the oldest of three children and was named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s sister. The family relocated several times during her childhood, both to Texas and to South Carolina, as well as a stint in …

Kessinger, Donald Euleon (Don)

Donald Eulon Kessinger played major league baseball for sixteen years in the 1960s and 1970s, mostly for the Chicago Cubs. He is also the only Arkansan to have both played in and managed in the major leagues, leading the Chicago White Sox for more than half a season in 1979. Don Kessinger was born in Forrest City (St. Francis County) on July 17, 1942, one of three children of Howard and Ida Kessinger. His father owned and operated Kessinger’s Grocery in Forrest City, and his mother owned a women’s clothing store called Kessinger’s. As a high school athlete in Forrest City, he excelled in four sports: baseball, basketball (in which he earned all-state honors three years), football (in which he …

Kidd, Sue

Sue Kidd was a female baseball star who gained local fame for the athletic prowess she displayed while playing on and against all-male baseball teams in Van Buren County and surrounding areas. Glenna Sue Kidd was born in Choctaw (Van Buren County) on September 2, 1933, to William Marvin Kidd and Julia Duncan Kidd, local farmers and merchants, though her father also served as postmaster at Choctaw. She had five siblings. The original community of Choctaw was covered by water when Greers Ferry Lake was filled in the 1960s. That community is now referred to as “old Choctaw,” as opposed to the present community of “new Choctaw” located on state Highway 65. As a student at Clinton High School, Kidd …

Kilgore, Andrew

Andrew Wilson Kilgore is a Fayetteville (Washington County) photographer best known for his arresting black-and-white portraits, primarily of fellow Arkansans set against a plain backdrop. By his own estimation, Kilgore photographed more than 30,000 people in Arkansas between early 1971 and late 2011. Andrew Kilgore was born on November 2, 1940, in Charlottesville, Virginia. He was the second of three children born to Bill and Carolyn Kilgore, both natives of Washington DC. Kilgore’s family moved several times when he was a child, first relocating to the Chicago, Illinois, suburb of Aurora shortly after World War II and then to El Paso, Texas, in 1956. Kilgore cites his time as a teenager along the Texas border as the period of his …

Kimbrough, Wilson Whitaker, Jr.

Wilson Whitaker Kimbrough Jr. made distinctive contributions to society through his efforts to professionalize law enforcement in Arkansas. He is considered the father of police and criminal psychology in Arkansas and one of the founders of police and criminal psychology in the United States. Throughout his professional career, he actively supported many mental health initiatives in northwest Arkansas and, as a Washington County Quorum Court member, led in the development of prototype job evaluation and salary administration programs. Wilson Kimbrough Jr., the first son of Lydia Reed and Wilson W. Kimbrough Sr., was born on March 29, 1926, on the family farm northeast of Springdale (Washington County). Both his parents were members of pioneer families of the county and were educators …

Kimpel, Ben Drew

Ben Drew Kimpel, a professor of English at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) from 1952 to 1983, was a widely respected scholar and linguist. He wrote the definitive biography of eighteenth-century novelist Samuel Richardson with UA colleague Duncan Eaves; they also published numerous articles on Richardson and the works of twentieth-century poet Ezra Pound and edited a 1971 edition of Richardson’s novel Pamela. Ben Kimpel was born on November 5, 1915, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). He was the only son of attorney Ben Drew Kimpel Sr. and Gladys Kimpel. Kimpel attended the public schools (with a private tutor in French) and graduated from Fort Smith High School at age fourteen. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy …

Kindley, Field Eugene

Field Eugene Kindley, recipient of the British Distinguished Flying Cross and an Oak Leaf Cluster for the American Distinguished Service Cross, ranked third in number of aircraft downed for the United States Army Air Service in World War I. Working his way from National Guard volunteer to commissioned Army officer, Kindley commanded the 148th Squadron in France from August 1918 until the end of the war and totaled twelve confirmed kills. Field Kindley was born on March 13, 1896, in a rural area near Pea Ridge (Benton County) to George C. and Ella Kindley. The death of his mother prior to his third birthday disrupted the family, and shortly thereafter in 1898, his father left the country to become the …

King, Bertha Hale

aka: Bertha Hale White
Bertha Hale King was a socialist activist in the first part of the twentieth century. Although born in Illinois, she received most of her early education in Arkansas before leaving the state to serve as a high-ranking official in the national Socialist Party. Bertha Hale was born in Nashville, Illinois, in 1878. Her father was a farmer, but little else is known about her parents. She attended primary school in Golden City, Missouri, just over the state line from Illinois. The family then moved to Arkansas. Following graduation from high school in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), she attended Buckner College, a small Baptist school just a few miles north of Huntington (Sebastian County). In preparation for a teaching career, she …

King, Helen Martin

Helen Martin King was one of Arkansas’s most unique artists, developing the almost-forgotten craft of rug hooking. She became a designer, teacher, and businesswoman, creating thousands of original designs, teaching classes, and creating cottage industries within the state. Helen Martin was born at Powhatan (Lawrence County) on September 20, 1895, the only child of John William Martin, a prosperous landowner and lumberman, and Clara Isabelle Norment Martin. Martin’s family moved to Batesville (Independence County) when she was a young child, and she acquired her elementary and high school education at the preparatory school of Arkansas College (now Lyon College). In 1913, at the age of eighteen, she married a local merchant, Fitzhugh Hail. Within a year of her marriage, both …

Kirby, William Fosgate

William Fosgate Kirby was an associate justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court and also served as state attorney general and U.S. senator. A friend and political ally of Jeff Davis, Kirby was a member of the Democratic Party and an ardent agrarian populist. His convictions led to his spirited opposition to President Woodrow Wilson’s efforts to involve the United States in World War I. Born on November 16, 1867, near Texarkana (Miller County), William F. Kirby was the son of Joseph F. and Martha (Ferguson) Kirby. His father was an ex-Confederate who moved into the state from Alabama and took up agriculture. Kirby grew up on the family farm with his three brothers. He received his secondary education in local …

Kitchens, Wade Hampton

Wade Hampton Kitchens was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fourth District of Arkansas in the Seventy-fifth and Seventy-sixth Congresses from 1937 to 1941. Wade Hampton Kitchens was born on December 26, 1878, on a farm near Falcon (Nevada County) to James Monroe Kitchens and Margret Sherrill Kitchens. He had eleven siblings. His formal education included the area’s local common schools, Southern Academy, and then the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), which he attended from 1895 to 1898. With no academic legal education available at the university or anywhere within the state, Kitchens left UA and continued his formal studies at the law department of Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee, from …

Kizer, Bernice Lichty Parker

Bernice Lichty Parker Kizer was a lawyer and a path-breaking state legislator and judge in Arkansas in the second half of the twentieth century. After almost fifteen years in the Arkansas General Assembly, Kizer stepped down to seek election as a probate judge. Her subsequent victory made her the first woman in state history to be elected to a judgeship. Bernice Lichty was born on August 14, 1915, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to E. C. Lichty and Opal Lichty. She graduated from Fort Smith High School in 1932 and worked for two years as a grocery checker at Fort Smith’s first self-serve grocery store in order to save money for college. She initially attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, …

Knoop, Faith Yingling

Faith Yingling Knoop was a prolific author who wrote children’s books, short stories, a popular Arkansas history textbook, and more than 250 articles for seventy-five different publications. Among other accolades, she won first prize in the 1948 National League of American Pen Women’s Contest. Faith Yingling was born on December 6, 1896, in Elgin, Illinois, the daughter of Irvin Dean Yingling, a watchmaker and optometrist, and Maud (Waddles) Yingling. She had an older brother. Childhood for Yingling was filled with summer trips to visit her grandparents in Illinois and Washington DC. They were avid sightseers and acquainted her with parks, museums, and other landmarks of New York, Chicago, and Washington. Her mother took her to New York to her first …

Kochel, Guy Ward, Jr.

Guy Kochel became a renowned track-and-field coach at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). His career has included building a successful college-level track program, guiding Olympic medalists, working in financial services, and serving as a church pastor. Guy Ward Kochel Jr. was born on May 16, 1941, in Reydell, an unincorporated farm community in Jefferson County. His parents, Pauline Kochel and Guy Ward Kochel Sr., owned a store, with his father also farming and serving as postmaster. An only child, Kochel was attracted to athletics from an early age. He played whatever sport was in season, including baseball and track, but later said his first love was baseball. He attended high school in DeWitt (Arkansas County), which was …

Kramer, Frederick

Frederick Kramer emigrated in 1848 from Prussia to the United States, settling in the 1850s in Little Rock (Pulaski County), where he became a wealthy businessman and a participant in the city’s civic life. He served two terms as an alderman (1869–1872) and four terms as mayor (1873–75, 1881–1887). Also, he was elected to Little Rock’s first school board in 1869 and served continuously on the board until 1894, most years as the board’s president. He was a member, and often an officer, in social and service organizations ranging from the Casino Club, of which he was president, to the Masons, in which he rose to the highest ranks. Frederick Kramer was born on December 22, 1829, in or near …

Krieger, Heinrich

Heinrich Krieger was a German lawyer instrumental in providing knowledge of American race law to Nazi policy-makers. As an exchange student at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1933–34, he engaged in an in-depth examination of American Indian Law. Some of his research later served as the basis for the Nuremberg Laws, the centerpiece anti-Jewish legislation of the early Nazi regime. Heinrich Krieger’s date of birth is unknown. There is no information about what brought him to Arkansas. Upon his return to Germany, Krieger produced a memorandum—presumably based on research he had begun in Arkansas—that was used in a critical 1934 meeting for planning what would become the Nuremberg Laws. The memorandum described American …

Ku Klux Klan (after 1900)

The original Ku Klux Klan (KKK) formed sometime between 1865 and 1866 in Pulaski, Tennessee. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first acknowledged Klan leader, took actions to disband the organization in 1869. A resurgence in Klan activity occurred starting in 1915, and states such as Arkansas were home to newly forming Klan groups during the 1920s. By 1955, the threat of school integration ushered in a new Klan era even though independent Klan groups were a fixture on the American landscape in some way or another from the 1920s on. One of the first official Klan acts in Arkansas was a donation to the Prescott (Nevada County) Christmas fund in December 1921. Shortly thereafter, other Klan groups formed with the goal …

Ku Klux Klan (Reconstruction)

The Reconstruction era in Arkansas witnessed the first of many incarnations of the state’s most well-known white supremacist organization, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). In the years after the Civil War, African Americans not only had to struggle to achieve equality under the law, but—along with their white supporters—they had to endure intimidation, whippings, shootings, and murders. Although much of the racial violence was random, it was also during this time that the KKK began its long history of using violence to achieve political ends. The Ku Klux Klan first appeared in Arkansas in April 1868, just a month after African Americans voted in Arkansas elections for the first time. A year earlier, Congress passed the Reconstruction Acts, which put …

Kumpe, Roy Franklin

Roy Franklin Kumpe founded World Services for the Blind. Visually impaired from trachoma—a viral infection that causes cornea scarring—he worked to create educational and employment opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired, both in Arkansas and around the world. Roy Kumpe was born on January 18, 1910, in Ironton (Pulaski County) to Dave and Mary Kumpe. Kumpe was the fourth child; however, two sisters died in infancy between his birth and his older sister’s. The family lived on a forty-acre farm, and Kumpe’s father raised livestock and grew produce that he sold to grocers. After the onset of blindness at the age of eight, Kumpe attended the Arkansas School for the Blind. Declining any financial assistance from his …