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

Gangster Museum of America

The history of Hot Springs (Garland County) and its role in Arkansas and American history has, since 2008, been brought to life in the award-winning Gangster Museum of America, located at 510 Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs. The museum was founded by Robert Raines, under the umbrella of Historical Attractions, Inc. (a for-profit corporation), and was the recipient of the 2009 Tourism of the Year Award in Garland County. It was also a 2011 Henry Award finalist in the Arkansas Heritage category. Although there are many artifacts and hundreds of photo exhibits, the museum experience is driven by a tour guide who navigates a series of eyewitness accounts on high-definition video presentations of those who lived through the “glory days” …

Gant, Glenn Rowlett

Glenn Gant was an important figure in the art history of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). He is best remembered for his paintings and pen-and-ink drawings that captured the unique essence of the architecture and culture of Eureka Springs during the last half of the twentieth century. Glenn Rowlett Gant was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on September 25, 1911, the son of Joseph Rowlett Gant and Phillippa Gant. His parents divorced shortly after his birth. Phillippa, a musician, relocated alone to Chicago, Illinois, while Joseph, a bank president, remained in Kansas City and married Mildred Stites. They had two more children: Elizabeth Lee and John (Jack) E. Gant. After his father’s death in 1925, Glenn lived with his aunt, Emma …

Garage Bands

With the arrival of the Beatles on American shores in 1964, the “British Invasion” became a national pop-culture phenomenon. Representing the second generation of rock and roll, wave after wave of English rock groups—such as the Rolling Stones, the Animals, and the Who—followed the Beatles during the next two years. Teenagers across the United States were inspired to form four- or five-member bands patterned after their British role models. Because they often practiced in garages, these amateur groups came to be known as “garage bands.” Like many mid-sized American cities, Little Rock (Pulaski County) witnessed a mid-1960s explosion in the number of neighborhood teenage groups, all competing for school, fraternity house, or country club engagements. Other cities and towns in …

Garvan Woodland Gardens

Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs (Garland County) is a department of the School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). It is a 210-acre botanical garden located on four and a half miles of Lake Hamilton shoreline and operates as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Its mission is to be a resource for people desiring to improve their aesthetic, cultural, and scientific knowledge of plants, gardening, architecture, and landscape architecture, within a woodland environment. Arthur Cook, a Malvern (Hot Spring County) businessman, purchased the acreage in the 1920s for the purpose of harvesting the timber to manufacture hardwood flooring at his mill, Wisconsin-Arkansas Lumber. Shortly after the acquisition, the land was transformed into a large …

Garvan, Verna Cook

Verna Mary Cook Garvan was one of the first women in Arkansas to own a construction/manufacturing business and was the benefactor of what is now Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs (Garland County). Verna Cook was born on January 22, 1911, in Groveton, Texas, to Arthur Bacillius Cook and Essie Louise Bordis Cook. Verna Cook and her sister, Dorothy, were raised to be “proper ladies,” but Verna often accompanied her father to work and absorbed his business acumen. In 1916, her father moved the family to Malvern (Hot Spring County) to manage the Wisconsin and Arkansas Lumber Company, an enterprise producing oak and pine flooring. Malvern Brick and Tile was also purchased by Verna’s father, who later served as a …

Gaston, James Albert (Jim)

Jim Gaston was a renowned Arkansas businessman, sportsman, and philanthropist whose legacy includes operating Gaston’s White River Resort, being an advocate for tourism and conservation in the state, and acting as a champion of education. His generosity contributed to significant growth at Arkansas State University–Mountain Home (ASUMH). James (Jim) Albert Gaston was born on December 18, 1941, to Albert (Al) Gaston and Iola Cosey Gaston in Herrin, Illinois. After moving to Arkansas, Al Gaston created Gaston’s White River Resort at Lakeview (Baxter County) in 1958. In 1961, at age twenty, Jim Gaston inherited the property, which at the time consisted of twenty acres, six small cottages, and six boats. Gaston expanded the operation significantly, until it covered 400 acres of land with …

Gatewood, Willard Badgett, Jr.

Willard Badgett Gatewood Jr. was a nationally recognized scholar and longtime professor of history at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He also served briefly as chancellor of the university. Gatewood was the author of numerous books, most dealing with African-American and southern history. Willard B. Gatewood was born on February 23, 1931, on a farm on the Park Springs Road in Caswell County, North Carolina. His parents were Willard B. Gatewood, who was a tobacco farmer, and Bessie Pryor Gatewood. He received his BA, MA, and PhD in history at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He began his college teaching career at East Tennessee State University in 1957, and it was there that he met …

Gay and Lesbian Movement

aka: LGBT Movement
The gay and lesbian movement in Arkansas has historically been represented by such legal organizations as Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Lambda Legal, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which have worked to secure the rights of gay and lesbian people in the state. However, recent years have seen an increasing organization of gay and lesbian people in Arkansas, primarily in the emergence of student groups at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and other institutions of higher education. Legal Issues and Context The first reference to homosexuality in the bound index to the now-defunct Arkansas Gazette is from October 1973, four years after the Stonewall Riots (the first “shot” fired in the Gay …

General Improvement Fund

The General Improvement Fund was an account established by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1995 to allocate surplus state general revenues each year for capital improvement projects around the state. The fund, commonly called GIF, was a source of perpetual conflict for the governor, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, and it finally foundered after the Arkansas Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional three times and a number of legislators, lobbyists, and consultants were convicted on corruption charges over the spending. Historically, when tax collections for state general revenues—which fund the public schools and most state services—exceeded the state budgets, the leftover money each year was directed to capital projects such as buildings, renovations, and equipment at colleges, universities, and …

Gerard, Gil

Actor/producer Gil Gerard is best known for his role of Buck Rogers in the 1979 movie Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and the spin-off television series that followed. He was raised in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and attended Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas in Conway in Faulkner County), where he pursued a career in chemistry. Gil Gerard was born on January 23, 1943, in Little Rock, the youngest of three sons. He gave up a promising business career as an industrial chemist to pursue his dream of acting, leaving at the age of twenty-six for New York, where he attended the American Music and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) for two semesters. To make ends meet …

Ghostley, Alice Margaret

Alice Ghostley was a film, stage, and television actress who was often described as looking “sweetly befuddled.” She most often played comedic roles, though she won Broadway’s Tony Award as best featured actress for her serious portrayal in the 1964 drama The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window. Ghostley’s distinctive face and quavering voice became known to millions for her comedic performance as a good witch/housekeeper in the television sitcom Bewitched in the 1960s and 1970s. From 1986 to 1993, she won new fans for her performance as eccentric family friend Bernice Clifton in the television series Designing Women, created by Arkansan Harry Thomason and his wife, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. Alice Margaret Ghostley was born in Eve, Missouri, on August 14, 1923, …

Gilchrist, Ellen

Winner of the 1984 National Book Award for Fiction for her collection of short stories, Victory Over Japan, Ellen Gilchrist has been declared “a national treasure” by the Washington Post for her various works, which at present constitute a collection of twenty-three books. She has received numerous other awards for her work, as well as a National Endowment for the Arts Grant in Fiction. A Mississippi native, she currently lives in Fayetteville (Washington County) and was for many years a faculty member at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville. Gilchrist was born on February 20, 1935, near Vicksburg, Mississippi, the second child and only daughter of Aurora (Alford) and William Garth Gilchrist. Much of her young life was spent …

Gillett Coon Supper

In Arkansas, one of the most acknowledged, anticipated, and attended wild game dinners is the annual Gillett Coon Supper held on the second weekend of January, with proceeds providing scholarships to Gillett (Arkansas County) area graduating high school seniors. The Gillett Coon Supper has also become a veritable rite of passage for people seeking election to political office. Hunters in Gillett, named in honor of railroad president Francis M. Gillett, at first gathered to share successful hunts, in this case raccoon, with friends and neighbors in a social gathering, which then escalated to an organized fundraising event for the Gillett High School Wolves football program. Recognizing the need for the community to have an avenue to deal with community ills …

Gladys McFadden and the Loving Sisters

Gladys McFadden and the Loving Sisters were an African-American gospel group based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). At its artistic peak in the 1970s, the group’s adventurous, contemporary style put its sound outside the realm of traditional gospel music. The group—which included McFadden as well as Jo Dumas, Ann James, and Lorraine Leeks—was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2003. Gladys McFadden was born on September 10, 1934, in Little Rock. Her father, Aaron Williams, was a pastor, and her mother coached their church choir. McFadden sang in that choir until age nine, when she founded a group she christened the Loving Sisters, as the group included one of McFadden’s sisters, as well as a friend who …

Glascock, Darrell

Darrell Glascock was a well-known political consultant who was an active force in Arkansas politics in the 1980s and 1990s. He also ran for U.S. Congress and sought the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor of Arkansas. Darrell Glascock was born in Tullos, Louisiana, in 1946 to Ray and Louise Glascock. He was interested in politics at an early age, and friends recalled him campaigning on behalf of state Senator Speedy Long when he was fourteen. He graduated from Georgetown High School in nearby Georgetown; he attended Northeast Louisiana University, Northwestern State University, and Louisiana State University, but he did not earn a degree. Glascock married Kitty Lou Rambo in the 1960s, and the couple had two children, a son and …

Glasgow Affair

Roger A. Glasgow, deputy attorney general and a young politician who had lost a race for prosecuting attorney in Pulaski and Perry counties, was arrested on August 25, 1972, at the United States border at Matamoros, Mexico, as he and his wife were returning from a vacation in Mexico. He was charged with smuggling marijuana into the United States, but the government’s case against Glasgow fell apart at the trial amid insinuations that he had been set up by political foes in Little Rock (Pulaski County), and he was acquitted. The account of Glasgow’s arrest, trial, and aftermath became the dominant news story of the year. The notoriety ended his political aspirations at the age of thirty, although he had …

Glaze, Thomas Arthur (Tom)

Thomas Arthur (Tom) Glaze was a lawyer whose crusade against election fraud in the 1960s and 1970s propelled him into politics and a thirty-year career as a trial and appellate judge. Fresh out of law school in 1964, Glaze went to work for an organization that investigated election fraud and irregularities—an organization secretly funded by Republican Winthrop Rockefeller. The experience consumed him and inspired the rest of his legal career. As a deputy attorney general in 1969, Glaze rewrote Arkansas election laws, although the Arkansas General Assembly drastically weakened his draft before enacting the reforms. He was a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court for twenty-two years, retiring in 2008. He recounted his battles with what he called “vote thieves” …

Gleason, George

At age twenty-five, George Gleason left his new legal career with a prestigious Little Rock (Pulaski County) law firm and purchased control of a bank in Ozark (Franklin County). After forty years of his leadership as chairman and chief executive officer, what is now Bank OZK grew to be the largest bank in Arkansas. Publicly owned, it has been nationally recognized as one of the best-performing banks in the nation. The bank expanded to other states and became a major commercial construction lender in large metropolitan centers. George G. Gleason II was born on November 30, 1953, in Dardanelle (Yell County), the youngest of four children of George G. Gleason and Mildred Stewart Boyce Gleason. He has three sisters, Marcia, …

Global Ties Arkansas

aka: Arkansas Council for International Visitors
Global Ties Arkansas—formerly the Arkansas Council for International Visitors (ACIV)—is part of the national organization Global Ties U.S., which is based in Washington DC. Global Ties U.S. consists of more than ninety nonprofit organizations around the country. Both Global Ties U.S. and all the ninety-plus organizations are private nonprofits, but they receive international visitors sent to them by the U.S. Department of State. Most of the local organizations are citywide, and a few, such as Global Ties Arkansas, are statewide in coverage. The visitors brought to the United States have been identified as individuals in a position—now or in the future—likely to influence issues related to American foreign policy. Global Ties Arkansas receives international officials and leaders in the areas …

Glosson, Lonnie Elonzo (Marvin)

Lonnie Elonzo Glosson popularized the harmonica nationwide and had a hand in several hit songs during a time when radio stations employed harmonica orchestras. From a young age, Glosson’s ability and versatility on the harmonica stood out. Lonnie Marvin Glosson was born the seventh of eleven children on February 14, 1908, in Judsonia (White County) to Cora Busby Glosson and George H. Glosson. He later changed his middle name to Elonzo because he did not like the uncle after whom he was named. Glosson’s mother taught him the harmonica after he earned money to buy the instrument by picking cotton: “She showed me how to play ‘Home Sweet Home,’ and I took it from there.” His father owned a boat …

Gober, Hershel Wayne

Hershel Wayne Gober is an Arkansas native who followed a career in the military with business and government positions. Gober held high-level posts in the Department of Veterans Affairs at both the state and national levels under President Bill Clinton. Hershel W. Gober was born on December 21, 1936, in Monticello (Drew County). One of eight children of Jimmie Price Gober and Wade Harvey Gober, he grew up in Monticello and attended the local public schools. He received his undergraduate degree from Alaska Methodist University (now Alaska Pacific University) in Anchorage. Gober married Olivia DeArmond on April 5, 1956, and they went on to have six children before the marriage ended in divorce. Following graduation from college, Gober joined the …

God’s Not Dead 2

God’s Not Dead 2 is a 2016 Christian-themed movie starring Melissa Joan Hart and directed by Harold Cronk. Filmed in central Arkansas, the movie is a sequel to the 2014 film God’s Not Dead and centers upon Grace Wesley (played by Hart), a high school history teacher who encounters legal trouble for incorporating words from Christian scripture in a classroom lesson. During a lesson about civil rights figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, student Brooke Thawley (played by Hayley Orrantia), in her history class at the fictional Martin Luther King Jr. High School, asks teacher Wesley about the religious origins of King’s commitment to non-violence. Wesley’s answer incorporates a few lines of Christian scripture, specifically Jesus’s …

God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness

God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness (2018) marked the third installment in a popular franchise of Evangelical Christian–themed movies by production company Pure Flix. Like its predecessor, God’s Not Dead 2, it was filmed in central Arkansas and features several prominent landmarks. The movie was released nationally on March 30, 2018. Set in the fictional Hope Springs, Arkansas, God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness opens where the previous movie left off—with Pastor Dave Hill (played by David A. R. White, who also produces) in jail for refusing a subpoena for the text of his sermons. After he is bailed out by his co-pastor, Reverend Jude (Benjamin A. Onyango), he finds that his church, St. James, has become a …

Good, Mary Lowe

Mary Lowe Good was a renowned chemist, industrial innovator, professor, and government leader. Good was the first woman in Arkansas to earn a PhD in the so-called hard sciences such as chemistry or physics (fellow Arkansan Margaret Pittman was awarded a PhD in bacteriology in 1929). Good was the first woman elected to the board of the American Chemical Society, and she held important U.S. government positions under the administrations of four presidents. Mary Lowe was born in Grapevine, Texas, on June 20, 1931. Her parents were Winnie Lowe, who was a teacher and librarian, and John Lowe, a school principal; she had three siblings, including Betty Ann Lowe, who became a renowned hospital administrator. In 1942, the family moved …

Goodwill Industries of Arkansas

Goodwill Industries of Arkansas is a not-for-profit enterprise agency that brings work to low-income individuals who otherwise face significant barriers to employment, including generational poverty and dependence on public aid, physical or mental disabilities, homelessness, periods of incarceration, substance abuse, or long-term unemployment. Goodwill Industries serves Arkansans with a host of rehabilitation services, career services centers, retail stores, and attended donation stations throughout the state. Goodwill Industries was founded in 1902 in the South End of Boston, Massachusetts, by Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister, who believed that all people should have the opportunity to work without regard to race, disability, or criminal history. Helms’s philosophy, summarized in the phrase “Not charity, but a chance,” expanded into a worldwide network …

Gospel of Eureka, The [Movie]

The independent documentary The Gospel of Eureka (2018), directed by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher, attracted acclaim for its mix of natural beauty and genial small-town tolerance. The portrait of Eureka Springs (Carroll County) focuses on the Great Passion Play, the Eureka Live Underground gay bar, and the relaxed attitudes of the organizers and patrons of both those local attractions. The filmmakers cleverly cut back and forth between two groups of enthusiastic local amateur performers: those working on the Passion Play and those appearing in the drag queen extravaganzas at the bar. Bar owners Lee Keating and Walter Burrell (a couple for thirty-one years, until Keating’s death in 2017) and Kent Butler, marketing director and star of the Passion Play …

Goss, Kay

Kay Goss is an author, educator, historian, lecturer, and emergency management official. Goss served as senior assistant for intergovernmental relations for two Arkansas governors (1982–1994) and was appointed associate director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), serving from 1994 to 2001. She also wrote the first full-scale biography of powerful U.S. congressman from Arkansas Wilbur D. Mills, published in 2012. Kay Gentry Collett, a native of Fayetteville (Washington County), was born on August 7, 1941. She majored in political science, public administration, and government, with a minor in history, at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville, graduating in 1963. She earned a master’s degree from UA in 1966 before embarking on doctoral studies in public administration at West …

Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center

aka: Delta Rivers Nature Center
The Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) is Arkansas’s first nature center. Located in Regional Park, it opened on July 28, 2001. It is run by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Education Division. The construction of the center, originally known as the Delta Rivers Nature Center, was funded by a conservation sales tax passed in 1996. The center consists of a 13,000-square-foot main building with exhibits highlighting Delta wildlife and history; it also includes a large meeting facility, a working laboratory, and a nature store. Located outside the main building are two aquariums totaling 22,000 gallons in volume. They display fish and other aquatic species native to the region in a natural setting. …

Gracen, Elizabeth Ward

aka: Grace Elizabeth Ward
Grace Elizabeth Ward was the 1981 Miss Arkansas and 1982 Miss America. When she began her acting career in 1987, she changed her name to “Elizabeth Ward Gracen,” because another Elizabeth Ward was already in the Screen Actors Guild. In 1992, she became the first former Miss America to appear on the cover of Playboy magazine and in a nude pictorial feature. Grace Elizabeth Ward was born on April 3, 1961, in Ozark (Franklin County) to Jimmy and Patricia Ward. Ward’s father was a supervisor at various poultry factories. Her mother was a registered nurse. She has a younger brother, Van Thomas Ward, and younger sister, Mary Margaret Ward. Ward graduated from Russellville High School in Russellville (Pope County) in …

Graham, Fred Patterson

Journalist Fred Graham was the dean of television news Supreme Court reporting in the 1970s and into the 1980s. Building upon his tenure as the U.S. Supreme Court reporter for the New York Times, and as law correspondent for CBS News, Graham pioneered television coverage of the nation’s highest court. Later, he became involved in the launch of cable television’s Court TV, where he continued to report and offer analysis of the American legal system and legal issues in the United States. Fred Patterson Graham was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on October 6, 1931, to Otis and Lois Graham. His family included an older sister and two younger brothers. He received his early education in Texarkana (Miller County) …

Graham, Josephine Hutson

Josephine Hutson Graham was a prolific artist, educator, author, and folklorist of Arkansas’s White River culture and cuisine. She won many local, regional, and national art awards and held more than twenty one-woman shows throughout the South and Southwest, as well as shows in New York, Washington DC, and Dallas, Texas. Josephine Hutson was born in Newport (Jackson County) on April 12, 1915, to Thomas Hutson (a cotton broker) and Mary Bailey Hutson; she had one younger brother. After high school graduation in Newport, Graham attended the University of Texas for three years before transferring to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). She earned a bachelor’s degree in English. She married Thomas Nathan Graham, a farmer and …

Grand Gulf Affair

Grand Gulf Nuclear Generating Station is the name of a nuclear-powered electricity-generating station at Port Gibson on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River downstream from Vicksburg, Mississippi. Issues surrounding the financing of this station convulsed politics in Arkansas for the last two decades of the twentieth century. Between 1985, when the power station began producing electricity, and 2012, customers of Entergy Arkansas, Inc., and its predecessor, Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L), had to pay $4.5 billion—about $6,500 per customer—to operate the Mississippi plant and subsidize Louisiana ratepayers under the terms of old agreements among the four utilities in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana owned by Middle South Utilities, a holding company based in New Orleans, Louisiana. The prospect of Arkansas’s …

Grannis Vigil

On September 29, 1975, in the tiny town of Grannis (Polk County), a group of approximately twenty-five residents, most of them relatives, closed themselves off from the rest of the world to ready themselves for what they believed to be the soon-approaching return of Jesus Christ. Over a period of almost ten months, the vigil members left jobs, removed children from school, and gathered food and supplies in a single residence to await the end of the world. The ensuing vigil garnered local and national attention and even sparked debate relating to the separation of church and state and the right of religious expression. The vigil ended on July 16, 1976, when federal marshals acted on a court-ordered notice of …

Grant, Daniel

Daniel R. Grant became a prominent educator in the second half of the twentieth century. Like his father, he served as president of what is now Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia (Clark County). Daniel Ross Grant was born on August 18, 1923, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to James R. Grant and Grace Sowers Grant. He received his early education in Arkadelphia, where his father, after a five-year stint as president of what is now Arkansas Tech University, began serving as president of Ouachita Baptist when Grant was nine years old. Grant graduated with honors from Arkadelphia High School in 1941; with a major in history, he graduated from Ouachita Baptist in 1945. He earned an MA from the …

Grapevine

The Grapevine, published from 1970 to 1993, was a weekly newspaper based in Fayetteville (Washington County). It began as an off-campus University of Arkansas (UA) student publication and evolved into an alternative news source for the broader northwestern Arkansas community, with a focus on Fayetteville arts and culture, student life, and progressive politics. The paper officially began as a weekly published off campus by the Arkansas Student Free Press Association, beginning on March 18, 1970, although longtime Grapevine editor Peter Tooker suggested that it may have had its origins the previous year as an underground campus paper focused on Greek life and concerns at UA. The paper’s founder and editor in 1970 was Richard (Cid) Sutoris Jr.; while a student …

Graves, Lawrence Preston

Lawrence Preston Graves served as the second auxiliary Roman Catholic bishop for the Diocese of Little Rock, which encompasses the state of Arkansas. Graves was also the second native Arkansan to be elevated to the Catholic hierarchy. Lawrence Graves was born on May 4, 1916, in Texarkana (Miller County); his parents, Louis Graves and Agnes Fant Graves, were local grocers. They had two sons and two daughters. Raised in St. Edward’s Church in his hometown, he attended all twelve grades in the local parish school and was a member of the first graduating high school class. At eighteen, Graves entered St. John’s Seminary in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and, two years later, Bishop John B. Morris sent him to the …

Gray, Joseph Ray (Joe)

Joseph Ray Gray (commonly known as Joe or J. R. Gray) was a painter, illustrator, sculptor, and graphic designer who grew up in Dardanelle (Yell County). His lasting influence on the art of the Arkansas River Valley grew from his passion for the environment, which defined not only his seventy-five-year fine arts career but also the development of his distinctive and varied artistic styles. Gray designed and illustrated publications and advertising campaigns, as well as creating—to the delight of friends, family, and numerous fans—outspoken political cartoons. Born in Booneville (Logan County) on September 25, 1917, Joe Gray was the son of Armour Gray, who was a meat cutter and, later, a grocery store owner, and Cena Rea McCorkle Gray. Around …

Great American Conference

The Great American Conference (GAC), created in 2010, is an athletic conference comprising institutions located in Arkansas and Oklahoma. The conference is associated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II, and the conference headquarters are in Russellville (Pope County). The Arkansas institutions that created the conference previously participated in the Gulf South Conference (GSC). These universities include Arkansas Tech University, Harding University, Henderson State University, Ouachita Baptist University, Southern Arkansas University, and the University of Arkansas at Monticello. These institutions also previously participated in the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference. The GSC includes member institutions from Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi, but due to the large travel costs associated with conference play, the member universities in Arkansas began exploring the …

Great Balls of Fire!

Great Balls of Fire! is a 1989 motion picture loosely based on pioneering rock and roll star Jerry Lee Lewis. Several scenes of Great Balls of Fire! were filmed on location in the Arkansas towns of Marion (Crittenden County) and West Memphis (Crittenden County), with other filming taking place in nearby Memphis, Tennessee. It starred Dennis Quaid as Lewis, Winona Ryder as the thirteen-year-old cousin whom he married, and Alec Baldwin as another cousin, televangelist Jimmy Swaggart. The 108-minute film was based on a book by Myra Brown Lewis and was directed by Jim McBride. It follows Jerry Lee Lewis’s early career in 1956 through 1959 as he rose to stardom. A pivotal plot point is his controversial marriage to …

Great Lester Boggs, The

aka: Hootch Country Boys [Movie]
aka: The Hard Heads [Movie]
aka: Redneck Country [Movie]
The Great Lester Boggs is a ninety-four-minute feature film directed by Arkansas filmmaker Harry Thomason and shot on location around central Arkansas, particularly Beebe (White County). It was released in late 1974 by Thomason’s company, Centronics International, and carried a rating of PG. The film was later re-released to various areas of the United States under different titles, including The Hard Heads, Hootch Country Boys, and Redneck County. One of its promotional taglines was “Learn about life the hard way.” The plot, by writers Don McLemore and Harry Thomason, concerns a young man named Malcolm Vandiver who embarks on a cross-country motorcycle journey. When, as almost all reviews note, his trip “boggs” down in the fictional Mountain Glen (in the …

Greek Food Festival

aka: International Greek Food Festival
The Greek Food Festival, which is organized by the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is an annual three-day event that raises money for the church and for charities around Arkansas. In 2008, approximately 30,000 people attended to enjoy the food and entertainment. The Annunciation Greek Orthodox church was founded in 1913 and, a few years later, received an official church charter. By 1921, the members had their first building, at 15th and Center streets. For more than thirty years before they began the Greek Food Festival, members had a church pastry sale offering Greek food. The church moved to Napa Valley Drive in 1983 and began the first official Greek Food Festival that June. The one-day …

Green Party (GPA)

The Green Party of Arkansas (GPA) began in 1996 when a group of Arkansans gathered for the purpose of adding Ralph Nader’s name to the ballot in Arkansas as the Green Party candidate for president. That goal was accomplished, and the group continued to have meetings and to expand its membership in various counties. By 2000, the Green Party had grown to have members in several counties, including Scott, Washington, Carroll, Pulaski, Boone, and Van Buren. The platform of the GPA was adopted from the Green Party of the United States (GPUS) and is quite lengthy. The platform embraces what are generally considered “progressive” values, including non-violence, social and economic justice, feminism, and respect for and care of the environment. …

Green, Al

Al Green is one of Arkansas’s best-known singers, with a career that has ranged from rhythm and blues (R&B) to pop to gospel and a combination. Green’s distinctive falsetto singing style continues to thrill fans old and young, and he remains an active soul singer from an era that also produced Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Marvin Gaye. Al Greene (he later dropped the last “e”) was born on April 13, 1946, in Forrest City (St. Francis County) and grew up in a large family that sang gospel music. When his sharecropper father moved the family to Grand Rapids, Michigan, Green was only nine but sang with his siblings in the Green Brothers. When he began listening to the non-gospel …

Green, David Gordon

Director, writer, and producer David Gordon Green is a native Arkansan whose films have received many awards. Film critic Roger Ebert described him as “a director of tones, emotions, and moments of truth,” while New York Times film critic A. O. Scott has compared Green’s work with the writings of William Faulkner. Green’s films are generally coming-of-age tales set in small, rural Southern towns. Although born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on April 9, 1975, David Gordon Green was raised in Richardson, Texas, just outside of Dallas. He grew up as the son of medical school dean Gordon Green and Lamaze instructor Jeanne Green. At an early age, Green developed an admiration for nontraditional films such as Walkabout, Never Cry …

Greenberg, Paul

Journalist Paul Greenberg of Little Rock (Pulaski County) is a nationally recognized syndicated columnist and author whose writing appears in newspapers across the country. He was the longtime editor of the Pine Bluff Commercial’s editorial page, and, most recently, served as editorial page editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Greenberg won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing and was later a Pulitzer finalist and Pulitzer jurist. Paul Greenberg was born on January 21, 1937, in Shreveport, Louisiana. His parents were Sarah Ackerman Greenberg and Ben Greenberg, owners of a second-hand shoe store and a series of small businesses on Texas Avenue in Shreveport. He had an older sister, Lillian, and an older brother, Irving. Living with his family above the …

Greene, Charles Edward

Charles Greene, born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), was a track and field champion who won the bronze medal in the 100-meter dash at the 1968 Olympic Games. He also took gold—and was part of a world-record performance—in the 4×100-meter relay in 1968. Charles Edward (Charlie) Greene was born on March 21, 1945, in Pine Bluff. Six months after his birth, his mother, Bertha Johnson, moved them to Chicago, Illinois, to escape the segregation of Pine Bluff. In January 1946, they moved to Washington State, near the Grand Coulee Dam, where she took a job as a domestic worker. Later that year, the family moved to Seattle, where his mother worked as a barber and cleaned houses part-time. Greene began …

Greenwood, L. C.

L. C. Greenwood was professional football player who starred as a defensive lineman at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) and played thirteen years in the National Football League (NFL), leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowls in the 1970s. Born on August 8, 1946, in Canton, Mississippi, L. C. Henderson Greenwood was one of nine children. He started playing football at Rogers High School in Canton in order to avoid after-school chores.After graduating from high school in 1966, Greenwood received both academic and athletic scholarship offers. He turned down an offer to study pharmacy at Clarke College in Atlanta, Georgia, for the opportunity to play football in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) at Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal …

Greer, Stuart

Stuart Greer is a popular character actor from El Dorado (Union County) with more than forty film and television credits to his name. His career began in 1994; in 2016, he suffered a stroke at the age of fifty-six. His first role was in a single episode of the British miniseries Crocodile Shoes; in 2016, he played the character Roman in AMC’s hit horror series The Walking Dead. Greer’s notable movies include I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), The Reaping (2007) with Hillary Swank, Homefront (2013) with Jason Statham, and American Ultra (2015). Stuart Greer was born on December 2, 1959, in El Dorado, and he lived there until he was eight years old. Greer graduated from Benton …

Greer, William Ezra

William Ezra Greer was a minister and civil rights and social activist in Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s. Ezra Greer was born in Illinois around 1925, but a lack of documentation makes it impossible to identify his exact date of birth. Not much is known about his early life, but early on he became a minister with the Church of God in Christ. He became particularly active in the Church of God in Christ’s department of evangelism and directed the public relations efforts of the church. Greer also served as a “national evangelist” for the church and conducted revivals around the country. He appears to have been assigned to Alabama; settling in Birmingham in the early 1950s, he served …

Gridiron

The Gridiron Show is a satirical musical production that makes good-natured fun of prominent people in politics, business, the judiciary, and the legal profession. It is presented biennially in Little Rock (Pulaski County) by Gridiron Productions, Inc., a nonprofit corporation composed of lawyers and others associated with the legal profession. All cast members are either lawyers or connected to the legal profession by employment, family ties, or friendship, and all are unpaid. The director, choreographer, musical director, and band are paid professionals. The script is written by a group called the Clandestine Committee. The Gridiron Show was first presented in 1916 by members of what was then the Little Rock Bar Association at a Gridiron luncheon. The luncheon was held …