November 13, 1948
Author Roark Bradford, who had moved from Tennessee to near Cabot (Lonoke County) as a teenager, died of amebic dysentery, believed to have been contracted while he was stationed in French West Africa in 1943. Bradford was a popular journalist, novelist, and short-story writer. Much of his fiction focused on African-American life, with inspiration drawn from his childhood memories of growing up in Tennessee and Arkansas. His first book, Ol’ Man Adam an’ His Chillun (1928), was the basis for the 1930 Pulitzer Prize–winning drama Green Pastures. At the time of his death, Bradford’s writings were very popular. Since the 1940s, however, many have criticized his work as patronizing and demeaning in its portrayal of black characters.