March 15, 1947
James Ronald Rodgers Sr., the nation’s first African American to be appointed manager of a major commercial airport, the first black head of a major independent city agency in Little Rock (Pulaski County), and the state’s first black commercial loan officer, was born in Little Rock. In 1980, Rodgers was named manager of Little Rock Regional (now National) Airport at age thirty-three. During his tenure from 1980 to 1993, boardings went from 494,000 to more than one million, a 200,000-square-foot expansion of the terminal was completed, a runway was renovated and extended from 7,173 feet to about 8,000 feet, and a parallel runway was built. The expansion projects Rodgers coordinated totaled more than $70 million.