Entries - Time Period: Modern Era (1968 - the Present) - Starting with E

E. Ritter & Company

E. Ritter & Company is one of the most successful and long-lasting family-owned businesses in the state. Headquartered in Marked Tree (Poinsett County), the privately held corporation is the parent company of Ritter Communications and Ritter Agribusiness. Though incorporated in 1906, the business was actually founded in 1889 by Ernest Herman Ritter Jr. The original business entity was a general merchandise store located in what was then a semi-permanent sawmill community. As opportunity arose, Ritter moved into other ventures, such as road and bridge building; timber cutting and milling; fish and game shipping; and the ice business. Interested in technology, Ritter installed a small electrical plant to run his ice business. He then hooked the rest of the company businesses, …

E&M Recording Company and My Records

aka: My Records
In the 1960s, Little Rock (Pulaski County) was home to E&M Recording Company, a studio owned by Earl Fox. The initials in the company name stood for “Earl” and “Myrna,” Fox’s wife. Through his two independent record labels, E&M Recording Company and My Records, which he established later, Fox provided a creative outlet and commercial venue for local singers and musical groups. My Records, in particular, played an important role in nourishing the creative energy released in the late 1960s profusion of central Arkansas rock and roll groups. In 1959, Fox built a sound studio behind his house at 1612 South Buchanan Street in Little Rock; this was an avocational enterprise, which he undertook for his love of music and …

Earle Race Riot of 1970

The Earle Race Riot of 1970 broke out in the late evening of September 10 and continued into the early hours of September 11, 1970. The violence erupted when a group of whites armed with guns and clubs attacked a group of unarmed African Americans who were marching to the Earle (Crittenden County) city hall to protest segregated conditions in the town’s school system. Five African Americans were wounded, including two women who were shot (one wounded seriously), but they all survived. Among the wounded were the Reverend Ezra Greer, who was a civil rights activist, and his wife, Jackie Greer. Both of the Greers were running for elected office in Earle. Earle’s black residents had been advocating for racial …

EAST Initiative

The EAST Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County), provides oversight, training, and support for the nationally recognized EAST model of education that is practiced in schools across the nation. EAST, originally an acronym for Environmental and Spatial Technology, is an educational program that combines elements of technology education, collaborative teamwork, and service learning in a model that stresses student engagement. EAST was piloted at Greenbrier High School in Greenbrier (Faulkner County) during the 1995–96 school year. Founder Tim Stephenson was a second-career educator working with at-risk students who were struggling or underachieving in the traditional classroom atmosphere. He created an alternative environment utilizing self-directed, project-based learning, allowing the students to choose their own projects according to …

Eastham, Alan, Jr.

Alan Eastham Jr. was a career Foreign Service officer. Over the course of thirty-five years, he held posts in countries all over the globe, establishing a special expertise and serving his longest stints in countries on the African continent. Upon his retirement from the Foreign Service, he returned to Arkansas and became a member of the faculty at his alma mater, Hendrix College. Alan Eastham Jr. was born on October 16, 1951, in Dumas (Desha County). He received his early education in the local schools and spent much of his time at the local public library. In 1973, he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County). He later earned a law degree from Georgetown …

Eaves, Thomas Cary Duncan

Thomas Cary Duncan Eaves taught in the English Department at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) for thirty-seven years, ultimately being named a UA University Professor. Along with fellow UA professor Ben Drew Kimpel, Eaves wrote the definitive biography of eighteenth-century novelist Samuel Richardson; they also published numerous articles on Richardson and the works of twentieth-century poet Ezra Pound. Highly regarded as a scholar, Eaves was also renowned for the liveliness of his lectures and was a favorite among students in his department. Born in Union, South Carolina, on October 11, 1918, Duncan Eaves (who published under the name T. C. Duncan Eaves) was the only child of Donald Matheson Eaves and Louisa Duncan Eaves. He attended …

Ecclesia College

Ecclesia College describes itself as a Christian “work learning” college located in Springdale (Washington and Benton counties). Founded in 1975 by Oren Paris II as a training center for young missionaries, Ecclesia was accredited as a four-year college in 2005, with a strong emphasis in Christian faith and character, work ethic, mentoring, and service. In 2017, the college became embroiled in a scandal regarding the redirection of General Improvement Fund (GIF) money by state legislators to the small college. Ecclesia College is a branch of the “Ecclesia Network.” Ecclesia, the parent organization, was incorporated in 1976 and has participated in Christian service worldwide through ministries such as Youth With a Mission (a one-year training program), Twila Paris Productions, Bibles for the …

Economics Arkansas

aka: Arkansas Council on Economic Education (ACEE)
In 1962, Archibald (Arch) Ford, Arkansas education commissioner, and Bessie Moore, supervisor of education, formed the Arkansas Council on Economic Education (ACEE) as a private, non-profit, non-partisan organization to promote economic literacy in Arkansas. Now known as Economics Arkansas, the organization’s mission is “to promote economic literacy and the economic-way of thinking to students in Arkansas by empowering educators to teach the fourth ‘r,’ real life economics.” Economic education is real-life, because young people will grow up and become part of the marketplace. The council provides resources and training to Arkansas teachers (kindergarten through twelfth grade) in public and independent schools. Through training of teachers, a multiplier effect is achieved. Each school year, the training a teacher receives through Economics …

Eells, Paul Irving

Paul Irving Eells was a radio and television broadcaster for University of Arkansas (UA) Razorback sports from 1978 until his death in 2006. Throughout his career, he became an iconic “voice of the Razorbacks.” Paul Eells was born in Iowa City, Iowa, on September 24, 1935 to Norval and Shirley Eells. He grew up in Mechanicsville, Iowa, graduating from the University of Iowa (UI) in 1959. He had a baseball scholarship to UI but decided that sports broadcasting was his real interest. Soon, he was working in radio and television in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, beginning with coverage of high-school sports and then as a radio play-by-play announcer for UI basketball and football. From Iowa, Eells moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where …

Eisele, Garnett Thomas (Tom)

Garnett Thomas (Tom) Eisele was a lawyer, veteran of the U.S. military, and judge. Serving for forty-one years as a federal district judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Eisele—a lifelong Republican—was on the bench during a time of dramatic change in Arkansas legal history. Eisele gained a reputation for fairness and probity in a period when Arkansas was emerging from Jim Crow–era discriminatory practices concerning race, law enforcement, and the justice system. Tom Eisele was born in Hot Springs (Garland County) on November 3, 1923, to Arkansas native Mary Eisele and Missouri native Garnett Eisele, who was a druggist. His grandfather, Will Martin, was a lawyer. In Hot Springs, Eisele enjoyed the benefits of a middle-class upbringing. He attended …

El Dorado Promise

The El Dorado Promise is a scholarship program established in January 2007 by Murphy Oil Company. The initiative provides El Dorado High School graduating seniors with a grant for tuition and expenses at any two- or four-year post-secondary institution in the United States. The maximum amount paid by the grant is set by the highest annual resident tuition at an Arkansas public university, but the funds can be used to attend any accredited U.S. college or university. This program covers only associate and baccalaureate degrees. The El Dorado Promise was modeled after the successful Kalamazoo Promise in Michigan, and the city of El Dorado (Union County) has seen similar growth and increased national attention. Murphy Oil, headquartered in El Dorado, …

Elam, Lloyd Charles

Lloyd C. Elam was a groundbreaking psychiatrist and college administrator who founded the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, and later served as that college’s president. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1997. Lloyd Charles Elam was born on October 27, 1928, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Harry Elam and Ruth Davis Elam. Elam was baptized at age seven at Christ Temple Church of Christ (Holiness) USA in Little Rock; he was active in Sunday school, becoming superintendent of the Sunday school at age seventeen. He attended Stephens Elementary School, then Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, where he graduated at the age of fifteen in 1944. Elam …

Elders, Joycelyn

aka: Minnie Lee Jones
Joycelyn Elders was director of the Arkansas Department of Health and the U.S. surgeon general in the administration of President Bill Clinton. Her controversial opinions led to her resignation after just over a year as surgeon general. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2016. Joycelyn Elders was born Minnie Lee Jones on August 13, 1933, in Schaal (Howard County). She took the name Joycelyn while attending college. The eldest of Curtis and Haller Jones’s eight children, she spent much of her childhood working in cotton fields. From an early age, Jones showed considerable academic ability, and in 1949, she earned a scholarship to Philander Smith College …

Elgin, Suzette Haden

aka: Patricia Ann Wilkins
Patricia Ann Wilkins was a linguist, feminist, and science fiction writer from the Missouri Ozarks who adopted northwestern Arkansas as her home after retiring from teaching in the 1980s. While living in Huntsville (Madison County), she wrote her cult classic Native Tongue novels and her widely acclaimed Ozark Trilogy under the name Suzette Haden Elgin. Patricia Ann Wilkins was born on November 18, 1936, in northeastern Missouri. Her father, Gaylord Lloyd, was a lawyer, and her mother, Hazel Wilkins, was a teacher. Wilkins had spinal polio as a child, as she related in her personal blog in the early 2000s, and refused to go through with a major surgery to treat it using bones from her hips. Instead, she opted …

Ellender, Bennie

Former Tulane University quarterback Bennie Ellender served as head football coach for Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County) from 1963 through 1970, amassing one of the most successful winning records in the school’s history. Bennie Ellender Jr. was born on March 2, 1925, in Sulphur, Louisiana, to Bennie Ellender Sr. and Alice Gray Ellender. He attended Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was quarterback, running back, and safety for the football team in 1943–44. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, returning to college at Tulane, where he again played on the football team in 1946 and 1947. In 1949, he married Bette Howard; they had no children. Ellender began his career at …

Elna M. Smith Foundation

aka: Five Sacred Projects
aka: Sacred Projects
The Elna M. Smith Foundation was created in 1965 by Gerald L. K. Smith and his wife, Elna M. Smith, for whom it was named. The foundation is the nonprofit organization that serves as the umbrella company supervising the Five Sacred Projects and other activities and attractions on Magnetic Mountain, just east of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). Gerald L. K. Smith was a controversial politician and anti-Semitic minister in the 1930s and 1940s. That controversy followed him to Eureka Springs. When he retired, he decided to leave politics and other activities behind him, and he and his wife committed to focus their energies on creating a legacy of preserving Americana. Included in their dream was buying and restoring historic houses. …

Elrod, Ben

Ben Moody Elrod was a prominent educational and civic leader in the latter part of the twentieth century. A minister, fundraiser, and educator dedicated to expanding students’ worldview, he played a central role in the growth and development of what is now Ouachita Baptist University (OBU). Ben M. Elrod was born on October 13, 1930, in Rison (Cleveland County). The second son of Searcy Elrod and Frances Sadler Elrod, he got his early education in Rison, but beginning at age fifteen he spent part of two years serving as a page in the U.S. House of Representatives. It was during his time in Washington DC that he first felt called to the ministry. After returning to Rison in time to …

Elton and Betty White

aka: Elton White
aka: Betty White
In the mid- to late 1980s, Elton and Betty White were highly visible Little Rock (Pulaski County) street musicians and eccentrics, recognized for their sexually explicit ukulele songs and their flamboyant wardrobe of sombreros and skimpy swimwear. Betty White was born Betty Crandall in 1927 in Mabelvale (Pulaski County), one of seven children of the town’s postmaster and his wife. In 1946, after graduating as valedictorian of Mabelvale High School, she married air force sergeant Scotty White, with whom she had a son, Sammy. Together, they traveled the nation and the world. After returning to Arkansas, she found secretarial work with the law firm of Wright, Lindsey & Jennings, for whom Bill Clinton was then practicing. Following a diagnosis of …

Emerson PurpleHull Pea Festival & World Championship Rotary Tiller Race

Emerson (Columbia County) hosts an annual gathering for fans of purple hull peas and abnormally fast garden tillers. The PurpleHull Pea Festival & World Championship Rotary Tiller Race is held the last Friday and Saturday in June on and near the grounds of Emerson High School. The festival encompasses numerous activities related to purple hull peas, some of which include the World Cup PurpleHull Pea Shelling Competition, the Great PurpleHull Peas & Cornbread Cook Off, the Senior Walk for World Peas, and the presentation of the Emerson PurpleHull Pea Farmer of the Year award. Both the festival and the tiller race began as the idea of Glen Eades of Brister (Columbia County). In 1990, Eades was the local area correspondent …

Encounter with the Unknown

Encounter with the Unknown is a low-budget 1973 feature film directed by Harry Thomason of Hampton (Calhoun County). It was shot at various locations in or near Little Rock (Pulaski County) using a number of local actors and crew. The ninety-minute film was rated PG and released by Centronics International. It was produced by Joe Glass and written by Glass, Jack Anderson, and Hillman Taylor. Encounter with the Unknown was the first film created by Thomason, who would later become known for projects including the 2004 documentary The Hunting of the President along with four Arkansas-based movies: The Great Lester Boggs (1974), So Sad About Gloria (1975), The Day It Came to Earth (1977), and Revenge of Bigfoot (1979). He …

End of the Line

End of the Line is a film set in the fictional town of Clifford, Arkansas, that deals with working-class issues of the loss of job security, worker entitlement, and the powerlessness of average people when up against faceless corporations. The film stars Wilford Brimley and Arkansas native Levon Helm and features in supporting roles Holly Hunter, Kevin Bacon, Clint Howard, and Arkansas native Mary Steenburgen (who was also the executive producer). End of the Line was the first film directed by Arkansas native Jay Russell, who went on to direct many well-known films, including Tuck Everlasting, Ladder 49, and My Dog Skip. Russell also co-wrote the script with John Wohlbruck. Much of the movie was filmed in or near Little …

Episcopal Collegiate School

Episcopal Collegiate School is an independent college-preparatory school in the Episcopal tradition located on thirty-four gated acres near downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County). Founded in 1998, it teaches students in grades Pre-K through the twelfth grade, with a total enrollment of 780 students in 2015. In 1996, a small group of parents sought to establish a new middle school in Little Rock with a similar Episcopal educational experience as the Cathedral School, an established Little Rock K–6 school. As a result of this effort, the Cathedral Middle School was established in 1997 and began operations in 1998 as an independent and separately incorporated educational institution. In the fall of 1998, the new Cathedral Middle School began teaching its first students …

Epperson v. Arkansas

Epperson v. Arkansas, a case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, challenged the right of a state to outlaw the teaching of evolution in public schools. On November 12, 1968, the Supreme Court ruled that Arkansas’s Initiated Act Number 1, an antievolution law approved by Arkansas voters in 1928, violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment and was therefore unconstitutional, thus setting a legal trend for the nation as a whole. The antievolution movement in Arkansas came into its own just as it was declining nationwide. The 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial made fundamentalist groups objects of ridicule and thus sent them retreating from the cultural and political mainstream. In January 1927, however, State Representative Astor L. Rotenberry of Pulaski …

Epperson, Tom

Tom Epperson is a producer, screenwriter, and novelist from Malvern (Hot Spring County). He is known for his collaborations with fellow Arkansan Billy Bob Thornton: One False Move (1992), A Family Thing (1996), The Gift (2000), Don’t Look Back (1996), Camouflage (2001), and Jayne Mansfield’s Car (2012). In addition to his credits as a writer of Hollywood films, Epperson authored the popular crime novels The Kind One (2008) and Sailor (2012). Tom Epperson was born on May 22, 1951, in Nashville (Howard County). A year later, the Eppersons moved to Malvern. His father, Wendell Epperson, was a lawyer and municipal judge, while his mother, Mabel, stayed home with their four children. In 1963, Epperson met Billy Bob Thornton when he …

Ernest Green Story, The

The Ernest Green Story is a made-for-television movie that premiered on cable TV’s Disney Channel in 1993. It tells the true story of Ernest Gideon Green (1941–), who was one of a group of African-American students (dubbed the Little Rock Nine) who were the first black students to attend Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The movie details the violence and victories of Green’s senior year in 1957–58. In May 1958, Green became the first black student to graduate from Central. The promotional poster for the film read: “1958. Because of his courage, Central High School will never be the same.” The film runs for 101 minutes and was developed by executive producer Carol Ann Abrams. Much of …

Esse Purse Museum

Esse Purse Museum in the historic urban neighborhood of Southside Main Street (SoMa) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is one of three brick-and-mortar purse museums in the world. The museum’s name comes from the Latin infinitive for “to be,” and the logo is styled as ESSE. The owner, Anita Davis, created the permanent museum in Little Rock in 2013 after exhibiting selections from her purse collection around the country from 2006 to 2011. Esse Purse Museum has a permanent exhibit that showcases purses throughout an entire century, including what they held; the museum also occasionally holds temporary exhibits. The museum’s gift shop offers designer purses, jewelry, wallets, and other accessories. The historic building on 1510 South Main Street that houses …

Eudy, Sid

aka: Sid Vicious
Sid Eudy is a professional wrestler who has used the ring names Lord Humongous, Sid Justice, Sid Vicious, and Sycho Sid. He is the only Arkansan to win the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) Championship and the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) World Heavyweight Championship. Sidney Ray Eudy was born on December 16, 1960; according to some sources, his birthplace was West Memphis (Crittenden County). Eudy got started in the business with the help of professional wrestlers Randy Savage and Lanny Poffo. Eudy spent the beginning of his career wrestling in the southern United States as Lord Humongous, a persona who wore a hockey mask. In 1989, he signed a contract with World Championship Wrestling, a company based in Atlanta, Georgia. He …

Eureka Springs Historical Museum

The Eureka Springs Historical Museum is located in the 1889 Calif Building. Its mission is to collect, preserve, and exhibit the documents, photographs, and artifacts pertaining to the history of Eureka Springs (Carroll County) and the surrounding area. In 1971, the Ozark Folk Festival Board of Directors purchased the historic Calif Building for the purpose of establishing a museum of local history. A museum advisory board accepted the task to collect, preserve, and exhibit artifacts in the building. The museum opened to the public in October 1971. In 1980, the Eureka Springs Historical Museum, Inc., an association whose membership is open to all interested persons, assumed ownership of the museum property and oversight of its operation. The wood and glass …

Evanescence

Evanescence, a popular alternative rock band from Little Rock (Pulaski County), has brought new music to the world with its dark, lyrical melodies. Evanescence was established in 1999. Amy Lee and Ben Moody (former lead guitarist) had met as teenagers at a summer camp in Arkansas in 1995. They started writing music together, playing together, and recording at their parents’ houses. Eventually, the band grew into a world-renowned phenomenon. The name “Evanescence” means dissipation or a disappearance, as with vapor. Before deciding on Evanescence, however, the group went through several names, including Childish Intentions and Stricken. The lineup included Lee as lead singer and pianist, guitarists John LeCompt and Terry Balsamo, bassist Will Boyd, and drummer Rocky Gray. Ben Moody …

Evans, David L.

David L. Evans worked as an engineer on the Saturn rockets and Apollo moon landing missions but became best known later for his recruitment efforts on behalf of Harvard University, where his work led to greater diversity in the student body. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2005. David L. Evans was born in 1939 in Wabash (Phillips County), near Helena (Phillips County), to sharecropper parents; he was the fourth of seven children. His father died when he was ten years old. Family members encouraged his mother, pregnant with her seventh child, to move to Chicago, Illinois, or Cleveland, Ohio. Instead, his mother left tenant farming and became a maid. When Evans was sixteen, his …

Evans, Grover

Grover Evans was known throughout central and northeastern Arkansas for his political endeavors, sports accomplishments, and career as a motivational speaker. In 1978, he was in a single-car accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. The road to recovery placed many challenges in his path, but he was able to meet those challenges and he was inducted into both the Arkansas Swimming Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Grover Evans was born on March 6, 1952, the first African American born at St. Bernards Hospital in Jonesboro (Craighead County); he was named after the delivering doctor, Dr. Grover Poole. His parents were William Evans and Georgia Lee Holiday, and he had five younger siblings. …

Evans, Timothy C.

Timothy C. Evans of Hot Springs (Garland County) was the first African American to be elected as chief judge of the Cook County Circuit Court of Illinois. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2010. Timothy Evans was born on June 1, 1943, in Hot Springs, to George Evans and Tiny Marie Evans. His father would later become a bailiff for the Illinois State Supreme Court, a position he held for twenty-seven years. Evans has two siblings: George W. Evans and Sandra M. Johnson. As a child in Hot Springs, Evans wanted to be a doctor. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, shortly after Governor Orval Faubus closed Little Rock (Pulaski County) public schools to impede …

Evening Shade

Evening Shade was a television situation comedy series about a contemporary Arkansas town. It was shown on CBS from 1990 to 1994 and was produced by Arkansan Harry Thomason and his wife, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. Taking place in the rural town of Evening Shade (Sharp County), it was the first network television series set in Arkansas. The show, which starred Burt Reynolds, was filmed partially in Arkansas and represented the state in a positive manner. When seeking suggestions about a location and title for the show, it is said that the winning idea came from the Thomasons’ friend Hillary Clinton. Created by Bloodworth-Thomason, who is from Missouri, the program was produced by Mozark Productions, of which she and her husband were …

Exact and Very Strange Truth, The

The Exact and Very Strange Truth is a novel by Little Rock (Pulaski County) native Ben Piazza. It is a fictionalized account of his growing up in Little Rock during the 1930s and 1940s. Although he earned more acclaim as an actor and director, Piazza had been a writer since his days at Little Rock Central High School, where he edited the literary magazine. While a student at Princeton University, his short story “The Death of Two Kittens” was published in the Nassau Literary Magazine. He started working on the novel while starring on Broadway in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1963. During the run of that show, he wrote during the day and performed at night. He finished …