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

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings [Book and Movie]

Detailing her childhood in Stamps (Lafayette County), as well as in St. Louis, and San Francisco, Maya Angelou’s autobiographical novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was first published in 1970 by Random House and nominated for a National Book Award. It was the first of a series of eight autobiographical novels that cemented her place as one of the great voices of African-American literature. The title of the book comes from the poem “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar, which describes perseverance in the face of oppression. The book chronicles the racism Maya, a young incarnation of Angelou, encountered in the segregated town of Stamps and other places she lived, along with the sexual abuse she faced at the …

Iggers, Georg

Georg Iggers was a historian and social activist whose long career included teaching at Philander Smith College in the 1950s. Iggers, a German native, left Philander Smith in 1957 and eventually settled at the University of Buffalo, where he spent his subsequent four-decade career. Georg Iggers was born in Hamburg, Germany, on December 7, 1926. He and his Jewish family fled Germany and the Nazis in the fall of 1938. They originally landed in New York City and relocated to Richmond, Virginia, in early 1939. Iggers earned a bachelor’s degree in romance languages from the University of Richmond at the age of seventeen, before going on to earn both a master’s in Germanics and a PhD in history from the …

Independence Steam Electric Station

The Independence Steam Electric Station (ISES) is a coal-fired electric-energy-generating plant consisting of two units nameplate-rated at 850 megawatts (MW). Located near Newark (Independence County), the units—constructed by Arkansas Power and Light Company (AP&L, now Entergy Arkansas)—were launched into service in 1983 and 1984 following vigorous litigation before the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) in 1978. The ISES plant burns Powder River Basin low-sulfur coal transported to Arkansas from the Antelope Coal Mine in Wyoming by rail in cars owned by Entergy. ISES—originally proposed by AP&L, Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC), and City Water and Light (CWL) of Jonesboro (Craighead County), and now also co-owned or leased by several other Arkansas municipal utilities—operates in coordination with other generating plants within …

Indochinese Resettlement Program

aka: Operation New Life
In 1975, the state of Arkansas was tapped by the federal government to be one of four main entry points for Indochinese refugees. The presence and availability of the facilities at Fort Chaffee, located adjacent to Fort Smith (Sebastian County), made it an ideal location for processing tens of thousands of Indochinese seeking refuge from their war-torn country. When the United States evacuated its remaining personnel from Vietnam in the spring of 1975, it left in its wake a wide segment of the Indochinese population who had assisted the American military and political effort. Without the American presence, they were left vulnerable to retaliation by the North Vietnamese government. Many fled in the days and weeks leading up to the …

Information Galore

aka: Infogo
Information Galore, Inc., (a.k.a. Infogo) of El Dorado (Union County) was the first commercial Internet service provider (ISP) in Arkansas. Although the company was short-lived, it had a notable impact upon economic and educational initiatives in southern Arkansas, as well as parts of Texas and Louisiana. Infogo was founded by six individuals. John Gray was a world-famous geologist who was appointed to serve on the Arkansas Geological Commission (now Arkansas Geological Survey) several times by Governor Bill Clinton and who did work for the United Nations. Gray, along with Watt McKinney, Leon Wood, William L. (Billy) Cook, and Robert McKinney each invested $5,000. Joe Brazeal was a board member of ARKnet, the state’s educational computer network, and provided technical expertise …

Instructional Microcomputer Project for Arkansas Classrooms (IMPAC)

The Instructional Microcomputer Project for Arkansas Classrooms (IMPAC) was an innovative program that helped make emerging microcomputer technologies a key component of education in Arkansas. Influential across the nation, IMPAC was cited for excellence by Electronic Learning, Instructor Magazine, Pro Education, Information Week, the National Governors Association, the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, Nelson B. Heller & Associates, and the Southwest Education Development Laboratory. A number of Arkansas educators made significant efforts in laying a foundation for the use of microcomputers in instruction, as well as providing for technical support and workshops for teachers and school administrators, K–12. New technologies of the 1980s included networking microcomputers, the progression toward online resources, computer-assisted instruction and multimedia, and instructional management software for …

Interfaith Arkansas

Interfaith Arkansas is an ecumenical and interfaith organization bringing together several religious groups for programming in two major areas: unity/relationships and mission/service. The following faith traditions make up the membership of the organization: Christian, Jewish, Baha’i, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, and Unitarian. Within each faith tradition, various expressions and denominations are represented. Interfaith Arkansas is rooted in the international and national ecumenical movements that developed after World War II. The World Council of Churches began in 1948 in Amsterdam with 147 churches from around the world involved in its formation. Its early roots were in the lay movements of the nineteenth century and the 1910 Edinburgh world missionary conference. The National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States, …

Interstate 630

Interstate 630 is an eight-mile-long east-west expressway running through the center of Little Rock (Pulaski County), connecting Interstates 30 (to the east) and 430 (to the west). It was constructed during a two-decade period beginning in the 1960s and is blamed for significant social alterations in the state’s capital city. The interstate originated with Little Rock city planner John Nolen’s work in the 1930s envisioning a cross-city expressway in Arkansas’s largest city. As the city’s population began moving to the west in the 1950s, interest grew in a highway that would provide easy access between the jobs and shopping based downtown and the homes to the city’s west. In 1958, Metroplan (the metropolitan area’s planning organization) released a tentative plan …

Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act

aka: Act 137 of 2015
In response to the 2014 passage of a broad antidiscrimination ordinance by the city council in Fayetteville (Washington County), barring discrimination in the city on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, Senator Bart Hester, a Republican of Cave Springs (Benton County), introduced Senate Bill 202 in the 2015 regular session of the Arkansas General Assembly. A parallel version of the legislation was sponsored in the House of Representatives by Representative Bob Ballinger, a Republican of Hindsville (Madison County). This legislation barred local governments in Arkansas from passing any ordinance that “creates a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.” The stated goal of the legislation was “to improve intrastate commerce by ensuring …

Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas

The Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas (ICSA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, public-service organization based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). It was founded in 1996 to develop and enhance local interest in the culture of Ireland and its people, familiarize the general public with the culture of the Irish people and the richness of their contribution to America, reacquaint Arkansans of Irish descent with their culture and ethnic history, and publicize the presence of an active Irish community in the Little Rock area. During the 1980s, as the result of a surplus of women in the nursing profession in Ireland, many Irish women immigrated to the United States and settled in Arkansas, which faced a shortage of qualified nurses at the …

It’s Alive!

Larry Buchanan was a producer and director of very low-budget films, with titles such as Zontar, the Thing from Venus (1966) and Mars Needs Women (1967). In his autobiography, Buchanan cheerfully called himself a “schlockmeister.” In the late 1960s, Buchanan formed Azalea Pictures to make cheap films for American Independent Television, the TV arm of American Independent Pictures (AIP), which specialized in low-budget B movies (though not as cheap as Buchanan’s) made by Roger Corman and others. Buchanan recalled that his instructions from AIP were: “We want cheap color pictures, we want half-assed names in them, we want them 80 minutes long and we want them tomorrow.” By “half-assed names,” AIP meant actors whose names would be familiar to audiences …

Ives, Kevin, and Don Henry (Murder of)

The apparent murder in Saline County in 1987 of seventeen-year-old Kevin Ives and sixteen-year-old Don Henry has spurred ongoing controversy, including conspiracy theories tying their deaths to a drug-smuggling scandal. The case was the subject of journalist Mara Leveritt’s award-winning book The Boys on the Tracks. On Sunday, August 23, 1987, at around 4:00 a.m., the bodies of the two boys were spotted by the crew of a Union Pacific locomotive near Crooked Creek trestle in Alexander (Pulaski and Saline counties). The bodies were lying between the tracks, wrapped in a pale green tarp; there was a gun nearby. The train was unable to avoid running over the bodies. The train’s crew immediately reported the incident to railroad officials and …

Ivory-billed Woodpeckers

aka: Campephilus principalis
Long believed to be extinct, the ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) was rediscovered in the Big Woods of east Arkansas in 2004. More than sixty years after the last confirmed sighting in the United States, a research team announced on April 28, 2005, that at least one male ivory-bill survived in the vast bottomland swamp forest. Published in the journal Science, the findings included multiple sightings of the elusive woodpecker and frame-by-frame analyses of brief video footage. The evidence was gathered during an intensive year-long search in the Cache River and White River National Wildlife Refuges in eastern Arkansas, involving more than fifty experts and field biologists working as part of the Big Woods Conservation Partnership, led by the Cornell Laboratory …

Ivy, Dan

Dan Ivy was a high-profile attorney and political gadfly in Arkansas in the latter part of the twentieth and the early part of the twenty-first century known for his creative print and television advertisements for his law practice. In his all-black outfit—black shirt, black pants, and signature misshapen black felt cowboy hat—Ivy was a larger-than-life personality, skilled at self-promotion. Danny Chris Ivy was born on November 15, 1952, in Newport (Jackson County) to Daniel Ivy and Minnie Bell Hickman Ivy, who were devout members of the Assembly of God. He had to end his formal education while still in elementary school in order to help feed his family. When he was a child, he had a speech impediment that he …