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

Black, Daniel

Daniel Black is a nationally renowned, award-winning novelist. His works are inspired by African-American life, history, and heritage in the South—encompassing themes of race, religion, and sexuality. Daniel Black was born on November 28, 1965, in Kansas City, Kansas, but grew up in Arkansas in Blackwell (Conway County). His great-grandmother, Stella Swinton, was his childhood caregiver. He graduated from Morrilton High School in Morrilton (Conway County). Upon graduation from Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1988, he was awarded a full fellowship to Temple University, where he earned a master’s in 1990 and a doctorate in 1992, both in African-American studies. Black also earned the prestigious Oxford Modern British Studies fellowship, leading him to study at …

Blackmon, Douglas A.

Douglas A. Blackmon is an American writer and journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and an American Book Award for Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (2008). Douglas Blackmon was born in the fall of 1964 in Stuttgart (Arkansas County). The family later moved to Leland, Mississippi, where Blackmon penned his first newspaper story at the age of twelve for the town’s Progress. The family relocated to Monticello (Drew County), where he graduated from high school. He then attended Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County), graduating in 1986. After graduation, Blackmon was a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat and managing editor of the Daily Record in …

Blackwell, Marlon Matthew

Marlon Matthew Blackwell is a professor of architecture at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and is recognized both nationally and internationally for his architectural design work. He also co-founded and conducts an international architectural program and is the principal architect in an award-winning private design firm. Marlon Blackwell was born on November 7, 1956, to a military family stationed in Munich, Germany. He was brought up in various locations including Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Montana, and the Philippines, and was a high school wrestler. Blackwell entered Auburn University in the summer of 1974, studying architecture and being selected as one of Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities. In 1980, he was awarded a bachelor’s degree in …

Blade, Maxwell

Maxwell Blade is an illusionist and comedian based in downtown Hot Springs (Garland County) is a well-known attraction. He began holding Maxwell Blade’s Festival of Magic in 2013 and undertook the restoration of the city’s historic Malco Theatre. Maxwell Blade was born on January 24, 1962, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). As a child in the 1970s, he became interested in magic after watching magician and comedian Mark Wilson’s Funny Face Magic Show and Magic Circus on television. He began learning and practicing simple magic tricks as a hobby, in addition to teaching himself to play drums and piano. When he was eight years old, he began playing music at a local church. He graduated from Greenwood High School in …

Blair, Diane Frances Divers Kincaid

Diane Frances Divers Kincaid Blair was a nationally respected educator, writer, speaker, political scientist, and public servant who authored two influential books, served as board chair of the Arkansas Educational Television Commission, chair of the U.S. Corporation for Public Broadcasting, member of the Electoral College, and professor of political science at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Diane Divers was born on October 25, 1938, in Washington DC to William Keeveny Divers and Minna Rosenbaum Divers, both attorneys; she had one older sister. Divers, selected for membership in Phi Beta Kappa as a college student, graduated cum laude from Cornell University’s Department of Government in 1959. Returning to Washington after college, she served as analyst for the …

Blair, Peggy O’Neil Long Hartness

Peggy Long Hartness was a state representative from Monticello (Drew County), serving Drew County and parts of Cleveland, Lincoln, and Ashley counties in the Seventy-fourth and Seventy-fifth Arkansas General Assemblies from 1983 to 1985.   Peggy O’Neil Long was born on November 7, 1939, in Monroe, Louisiana, to Neil Carlton Long, who was a farmer who operated a small grocery store, and Vivian Geneva Shipp Long, a nurse at E. A. Conway Memorial Charity Hospital in Monroe. The family lived near the communities of Bosco and Fondale in south Ouachita Parish. She attended Logtown Elementary School and Ouachita Parish High School, graduating in 1957. In high school, she was editor of the school newspaper, team captain and all-state basketball player, homecoming queen, student council representative, class officer, president of the 4-H Club, and secretary of the Louisiana Junior Classical League, as well as a member of the National Honor Society, Latin Club, …

Blake, Charles E.

Charles Edward Blake Sr. is the presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). He is also pastor of West Angeles Church of God in Christ, which has a membership of more than 25,000. In addition, Blake founded Save Africa’s Children, which provides orphan care programs across the continent of Africa. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2009. Charles E. Blake was born on August 5, 1940, in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Junious Augustus Blake and Lula Champion Blake. His father was a native of Camden (Ouachita County) who pastored various churches throughout Arkansas before moving to California. Charles Blake was ordained a minister himself in 1962. He received a BA …

Blockbusting

Blockbusting, or “panic peddling,” was a process whereby real estate agents urged white property owners to sell their property at low prices (often below market value) in response to their fear that black families would move into their neighborhood. Emerging primarily out of the Great Migration, or the resettlement of African Americans from the rural South seeking employment in the industrialized North between approximately 1915 and 1970, blockbusting matured as a real estate tactic amid population growth in urban areas of major cities all over the country and the racial tension accompanying it. Other processes in the housing market aided real estate agents who operated as blockbusters. With mortgage lenders denying loans to residents of certain areas who were deemed …

Bloody Mama

In 1969, Roger Corman, who had found success directing and producing low-budget exploitation films for American International Pictures, chose as his next project a fictionalized account of the exploits of the infamous Ma Barker and her gang. After a scouting trip to Arkansas, Corman decided to shoot the film in the Ozark Mountains and around the Little Rock (Pulaski County) area. Corman described the experience as one of the “smoothest and most successful” shoots of his career. For the part of the notorious Ma Barker, Corman had only one actress in mind—Oscar-winner Shelley Winters. After agreeing to the role, Winters helped Corman cast the film. She showed him a video of Robert De Niro performing in a low-budget Brian De Palma film, …

Blount, Lisa Suzanne

Lisa Blount was an actress who appeared in numerous films and television shows, most notably as Lynette Pomeroy in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. Along with her husband, actor Ray McKinnon, she received an Academy Award for the 2002 short film The Accountant. Lisa Suzanne Blount was born on July 1, 1957, in Fayetteville (Washington County) to Glen Roscoe Blount and Louise Martin Blount, natives of Floral (Independence County); she had one brother, Greg. The family moved to Jacksonville (Pulaski County). Blount graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1975 and attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville, beginning classes there when she was sixteen; she left UA before …

Blue and the Gray, The

The Blue and the Gray was a three-part television miniseries that was filmed primarily in northwestern Arkansas in 1981. It aired for three nights on the CBS television network in November 1982. The large cast included such actors as Lloyd Bridges, Colleen Dewhurst, Stacy Keach, Geraldine Page, Rip Torn, Robert Vaughn, and Paul Winfield. However, for many, the presence of legendary film star Gregory Peck, who portrayed President Abraham Lincoln, was the most memorable. Thousands of local citizens auditioned for roles as extras and positions as crew members, with many ultimately being hired. Harry Z. Thomason produced two episodes of the miniseries, and longtime western actor Lloyd “Arkansas Slim” Andrews had a minor speaking role. Set during the Civil War, …

blurr, buZ

aka: Butler, Russell
Russell Butler (a.k.a. buZ blurr) is a visual and conceptual artist whose dedication to his post-postmodern artistic vision has placed him at the forefront of the contemporary mail-art, stamp-art, and conceptual art movements. Although internationally known, he remains rooted in the traditions of Clark County, where he resides. Russell Butler was born on August 23, 1943, in Lafe (Greene County). His father, Eugene H. Butler, was a track foreman on the Missouri Pacific Railroad, and his mother, Cleda Elmira Mullins Butler, was a restaurant manager in Forrest City (St. Francis County). Butler had one sister. The family moved often to follow his father’s railroad career in track maintenance. After attending seven different schools around Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana, Butler graduated …

Blytheville Boycotts of 1970–1971

In the opening months of 1970, a group of African Americans in their mid-twenties sought to bring the social and cultural changes they had seen evolving in other parts of the world to Blytheville (Mississippi County). A graduate of Harrison High School (Blytheville’s black school), Bob Broadwater helped this group establish a chapter of the Black United Youth (BUY). The first public effort of this fledgling civil rights organization occurred soon after a local white grocer, Ernest Ray, beat a nine-year-old black boy with a crowbar for allegedly shoplifting. Ray’s grocery store was a fixture in the Elm Street commercial district. His store had a reputation for selling out-of-date meats and vegetables well past their prime. During a meeting in …

Bobby Hopper Tunnel

Arkansas has seven railroad tunnels but only one highway tunnel. Named for the Arkansas Highway Commission director at the time of the tunnel’s construction, Bobby Hopper, the northwest Arkansas commission representative from Springdale (Washington County), the Bobby Hopper Tunnel is located on Interstate 49 in Washington County just north of the Crawford County line with its closest exit at Winslow (Washington County). U.S. Highway 71, once classified by Reader’s Digest as “one of the most dangerous highways in America,” includes a perilous stretch between Alma (Crawford County) and Fayetteville (Washington County) through the Ozark Plateau. Thus, construction of an alternate route was designed to make the trip safer, as well as reduce travel time. Approved in 1987 and completed in …

Bolt, Tommy

Tommy Bolt was one of the top golfers on the Professional Golf Association (PGA) tour in the 1950s. The winner of the 1958 U.S. Open, he was also a pioneer in the development of the PGA’s senior tour that emerged in the 1960s. He later retired and settled in Arkansas. Thomas Henry (Tommy) Bolt was born on March 31, 1916, in Haworth, Oklahoma, to Walker Jeter Bolt and Adreon Geneva Jones Bolt. Little is known about Bolt’s youth beyond the fact that his mother died when he was two. With his father working in construction, the family moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, when Bolt was six. Bolt dropped out of Byrd High School as a sophomore, and like many professional golfers, …

Bond, Barbara Ann Higgins

aka: Barbara Higgins Bond
Barbara Ann Higgins Bond—whose professional name is Higgins Bond—is a nationally recognized illustrator and commercial artist whose most important works have concerned the history and struggles of African Americans. A pioneer freelance artist since the early 1970s, she has designed and illustrated cultural heritage stamps published by the U.S. Postal Service and the United Nations. Her art has been exhibited by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the DuSable Museum of African American History, and she is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Barbara Ann Higgins was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on December 14, 1951, the daughter of Henry Drew Higgins and Edna Washington Higgins. She grew up in Little Rock in a home on …

Bond, Patricia Lee Parker (Pat)

Pat Bond of Jacksonville (Pulaski County) served in the Eighty-first, Eighty-second, and Eighty-third Arkansas General Assemblies from 1997 to 2002, representing District 64, which covers part of Pulaski County.   Patricia Lee Parker was born on August 6, 1938, in Gladewater, Texas, to Murray Parker and Lucille A. Lee, who was a professional dancer with Chester Hale Girls, a Broadway dance ensemble that toured nationally and appeared in short Mentone films. In 1942, they moved to Arkansas, settling in Lewisville (Lafayette County), where her grandfather owned Lee Dry Goods Store. She was educated in the public schools of Lewisville and later reflected that “growing up in Lewisville was the kind of experience that you would want every child to have.” In high school, Pat was a cheerleader and a majorette, class president, and a member of the National Honor Society and the school newspaper and yearbook staffs; in addition, she played basketball and acted in class …

Bonner, Frank

aka: Frank Woodrow Boers Jr.
Best known for his role of sales manager Herb Tarlek on the television sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, which began in 1978, Frank Bonner was an actor and television director. He also appeared in such popular shows as Saved by the Bell: The New Class, Just the Ten of Us, Murder, She Wrote, and Night Court. Frank Bonner was born Frank Woodrow Boers Jr. on February 28, 1942, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Frank Woodrow Boers, a saxophone player, and Grace Dobbins Boers, who had a singing career in the 1930s and 1940s. He had a sister, a brother, and a step-brother. He grew up Catholic, attending St. Edward’s and Our Lady of Good Counsel schools, before his family moved …

Booker Worthen Literary Prize

aka: Worthen Prize
The Booker Worthen Literary Prize is awarded each year to the best work, fiction or non-fiction, by an author living in Arkansas. With a stipend of $2,000, it is one of the state’s most lucrative and prestigious literary prizes. The Booker Worthen Literary Prize was established in 1999 in the memory of William Booker Worthen, who was a member of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) Board of Trustees for twenty-two years, as well as part of the Worthen Bank empire. The award is funded in part by interest from an endowment for the award donated by the Worthen family. The Worthen Prize is awarded in a joint program with the Porter Fund Literary Prize. This generally occurred in October, …

Bookout, Jerry

Jerry Bookout was a long-time member of the Arkansas General Assembly, where he represented northeastern Arkansas as both a three-term state representative beginning in 1967 and a state senator beginning in 1973. In a legislative career that spanned three decades, his emphasis was on far-reaching issues involving education, healthcare, and the military. Jerry Bookout was born on November 2, 1933, in Rector (Clay County) to Mary Mobley Bookout and Paul Otis Bookout. After attending Rector public schools, he enrolled at what is now Arkansas State University in Jonesboro (Craighead County), graduating in 1955 with a BA in history and political science. He was that year’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Distinguished Military Graduate, and, after being commissioned as an armor …

Bootleggers

aka: Deadeye Dewey and the Arkansas Kid
The 1974 movie billed on its original posters as Charles B. Pierce’s BOOTLEGGERS was later re-released as Deadeye Dewey and the Arkansas Kid, and yet again as Charles B. Pierce’s THE BOOTLEGGER’S ANGEL. The 115-minute film was shot on location in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas near Calico Rock (Izard County). It chronicles two feuding families of bootleggers, the Pruitts and the Woodalls, in rural Arkansas during the 1930s. Its original poster contained the tagline “Revenge, Love and Liquid Dynamite!” Significant is the billing of two of its minor cast members: “Introducing Jaclyn Smith” followed by “AND Slim Pickens.” Variously categorized as an action/adventure, a revenge drama, and a period comedy, the low-budget movie earned more than $4 million …

Boozman, Fay

Fay Boozman was a prominent ophthalmologist and public official in late twentieth-century Arkansas. The brother and business partner of Senator John Boozman, Fay Boozman also served in the state government and was heading the Arkansas Department of Health at the time of his sudden death at the age of fifty-eight. Fay Winford Boozman III was born on November 10, 1946, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to Fay Winford Boozman Jr. and Marie Nicholas Boozman. His father was a U.S. Air Force master sergeant, causing the family to move frequently, but Boozman spent much of his youth in Fort Smith. He attended Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, from 1964 to 1966, then Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) from 1966 …

Boozman, John

Businessman and rancher John Boozman became a leading Republican officeholder in the early part of the twenty-first century. First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2001, he was later elected to the Senate and became, in 2015, the state’s senior U.S. senator. John Boozman was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on December 10, 1950, to Fay Winford Boozman Jr. and Marie Nichols Boozman. Fay Boozman was a U.S. Air Force master sergeant, and the family moved frequently when John was young. Boozman spent his high school years in Arkansas, graduating from Northside High School in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Boozman played football for the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), which he attended from 1969 to 1972. …

Borhauer, Shirley Ursala Czosek

Shirley Borhauer was a representative from Bella Vista (Benton County) in the Eighty-third, Eighty-fourth, and Eighty-fifth Arkansas General Assemblies, serving from 2001 to 2006.   Shirley Ursala Czosek was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 2, 1926, to Edmund Stanislaw Czosek, a screw machine operator at the Felt and Tarrant Manufacturing Company, and Clara Victoria Mindikowski Czosek, who was a Democratic election judge in Chicago’s Ward 26. She had one older sister, Phillis Mildred Czosek Black.  Czosek attended Chicago Public Schools and graduated from Blue Island High School in 1944. She worked in the office at the Dodge Chicago Aircraft Engine Plant, which made engines for B-29 bombers, and then entered the last class of the United States Cadet Nurse Corps and trained at the Little Company of Mary School of Nursing near Chicago. Graduating as a registered nurse in 1948, she worked at St. Francis Hospital and for the Chicago Public Health Department.  In 1949, she married William N. Borhauer Jr. and changed her political affiliation to Republican. After the birth of her daughter, …

Bosmyer, Peggy Sue

When the Reverend Dr. Peggy Bosmyer was ordained in January 1977 at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock (Pulaski County) by the Right Reverend Christoph Keller Jr., bishop of the Diocese of Arkansas, she was the first woman in the South to be regularly ordained under a new canon as a priest in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA). Peggy Sue Bosmyer was born on July 26, 1948, in Helena (Phillips County), the daughter of Thomas Bosmyer, who was an insurance adjustor, and Margaret Markland Bosmyer, an elementary school teacher. Her older sister, Judy, had been born in 1944. Bosmyer graduated from Central High School in Helena in 1966. In 1970, she received a BA in …

Boston, Gretha Denise

Gretha Denise Boston is a celebrated mezzo-soprano and Tony Award–winning actress. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in 1991 in Mozart’s Coronation Mass and won the 1995 Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as Queenie in the Broadway revival of Show Boat; she was the first Arkansan to be so honored. The same role earned Boston the Theatre World Award as Outstanding Debut Artist. She was also nominated for the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Non-Resident Production for the 2000–01 season at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC for her performance in It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues. Gretha Boston was born in Crossett (Ashley County) on April 18, 1959, the …

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks (BGO) in Fayetteville (Washington County) opened in 2007 on acreage leased from the City of Fayetteville. The nonprofit organization is the result of a grassroots effort to establish a botanical garden with a mission of offering education, entertainment, and recreation to adults and children through a variety of events, programs, classes, and community connections. The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is a member of the American Horticulture Society—which allows BGO members reciprocal admission to gardens and arboretums across the country—and the American Public Gardens Association, which encourages involvement in gardening for all ages. The Botanical Garden Society of the Ozarks was incorporated in January 1994. The founder and first director was Donna Porter, who …

Bowen, William Harvey

William Harvey Bowen was a senior partner in Arkansas’s largest law firm, president of the state’s largest bank, chief executive officer of a health insurance company, and dean of the state’s largest law school, which was later named the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. He was a friend and adviser to Bill Clinton and managed the governor’s office for a year while Clinton was running for president. He was also a friend and adviser to Dale Bumpers and David Pryor when they were governors and U.S. senators. William H. Bowen was born on May 6, 1923, in Altheimer (Jefferson County), one of five children of Robert J. (Bob) Bowen, who farmed and managed …

Boxcar Bertha

Boxcar Bertha (1972) was the second exploitation film shot in Arkansas by B-movie director Roger Corman. The first was Bloody Mama (1970), and both were set in the 1930s. Corman chose Arkansas because many rural areas in the state could still pass for the Depression-era South. Interiors and street scenes for Bertha were shot around Camden (Ouachita County). Train sequences and other exteriors were shot on the Possum Trot Line of the Reader Railroad in Nevada and Ouachita counties. Rather than direct the film himself, Corman served as producer and hired a relatively unknown young director, Martin Scorsese, who had impressed Corman with his first feature film, Who’s That Knocking on My Door (1967), also titled I Call First. Corman gave Scorsese …

Boy Erased

Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir Boy Erased recounts his experiences at the Memphis, Tennessee, “ex-gay” therapy program Love in Action, to which his parents sent him in 2004 upon learning that he was gay. A movie adaptation of the book was released in November 2018. Conley, who was born in Memphis and grew up in northern Arkansas—first in Cherokee Village (Sharp and Fulton counties), then in Mountain Home (Baxter County)—is the son of Hershel Conley and Martha Caudill Conley. His father served as a Missionary Baptist pastor in Mountain Home. Conley was a Lyon College freshman when another student outed him as gay. In response, his parents sent him to Love in Action. His memoir is a painful reflection on his …

Boys on the Tracks, The

Mara Leveritt’s 1999 book Boys on the Tracks: Death, Denial, and a Mother’s Crusade to Bring Her Son’s Killers to Justice is one of the most important examples of investigative journalism in modern Arkansas history. The book’s subject is one of the state’s most famous unsolved cases. At the heart of the case are events surrounding the deaths of two young men—best friends Larry Kevin Ives and Donald George (Don) Henry, both of Bryant (Saline County)—and the resistance encountered by their grieving parents as they searched for the truth. The book won the prestigious Booker Worthen Literary Prize in 2000. On August 23, 1987, at around 4:00 a.m., the bodies of two young men were spotted by the crew of …

Bradford, Jay T.

Jay Bradford is an Arkansas businessman and government official. A longtime member of the Arkansas General Assembly, he capped a public career of over thirty years with a six-year stint as state commissioner of insurance. Jay T. Bradford was born on April 30, 1940, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to J. Turner Bradford and Chrystal Jacobs Bradford. He had one brother and two sisters. After Bradford’s mother died when he was eight years old, his father, who was a traveling salesman, placed his children in the care of relatives in Paris (Logan County). After receiving his early education in the local schools, he attended Subiaco Academy, a Catholic college preparatory school in Subiaco (Logan County). After graduating from Subiaco, he …

Branch, Jesse Oliver

Jesse Branch served as a college and professional football player, football coach, and college athletics administrator. His athletic abilities and knowledge took him from playing fields in Arkansas and Canada to the coaching and administrative ranks in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Kansas, and Oregon. Jesse Oliver Branch was born on February 1, 1941, in the small community of Sulfur Springs (Jefferson County) near Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). His parents were George Branch, who was a farmer, and Ada Branch, who was a homemaker. He graduated from Watson Chapel High School in Pine Bluff in 1959. Having distinguished himself on the high school football field, he received an athletic scholarship to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). During his …

Brandon Burlsworth Foundation

The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation (BBF) is a Christian organization that works to support the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular children with limited opportunities. Most notably, the foundation sponsors a number of scholarships for lower-income students. The foundation takes its name from Brandon Burlsworth, who played football at Harrison High School in Harrison (Boone County). After several offers from Division II schools, he decided to be a walk-on at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He earned a scholarship his first semester at Arkansas and became the first walk-on at UA to be named All Southeastern Conference (1997 and 1998) and All American (1998). He also became the first football player in school history to …

Branscum, Robbie Tilley

Robbie Tilley Branscum gained fame as the award-winning author of books for older children. Her hardscrabble childhood in Arkansas provided the vivid, rustic backdrop for each of her many books. Robbie Branscum was born Robbie Nell Tilley in Big Flat (Baxter County) on June 17, 1934, the third of five children born into a poor family. When she was five, the family moved to Colorado in search of a better life. Her father, Donnie Tilley, worked briefly in timber before dying of appendicitis shortly after the move. Her mother, Blanche, took the children to live with their paternal grandparents near Big Flat and returned to Colorado alone. Tilley’s grandparents were poor sharecroppers who had previously raised ten children of their …

Bratton, Samuel Isaac

Sam Bratton was an influential figure in both the Arkansas government and the state’s Democratic Party for over three decades in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. A skilled lawyer and policy maker, he was particularly well respected for his expertise in the area of education law and policy. Samuel Isaac Bratton was born on January 28, 1945, in Montgomery, Alabama, to Samuel Isaac Bratton Sr. and Pauline Kilgore Bratton. The family later moved to Arkansas, and Bratton graduated from Earle High School, where he had played basketball. Majoring in history and political science, Bratton received his bachelor’s degree from Hendrix College in 1967. He then taught and coached basketball in Turrell (Crittenden County) and Gosnell (Crittenden County). Bratton …

Bridges, James

James Bridges was an Arkansan who became a movie producer, director, and screenwriter. He was known for some of the biggest hit films of the 1970s and 1980s, such as The China Syndrome and Urban Cowboy. He also filmed one of his movies, 9/30/55, in Conway (Faulkner County). James Bridges was born on February 3, 1936, in Paris (Logan County) in western Arkansas. From 1954 to 1956, he attended Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) in Conway, where he was drum major with the marching band and was involved with the performing arts. While in school, Bridges heard about the death of screen legend James Dean on September 30, 1955, an event that later influenced Bridges’s …

brigham, besmilr moore

aka: Bess Miller Moore
Besmilr Moore Brigham was an award-winning poet and short-story writer who lived in Arkansas for decades. She came to prominence during the women’s movement of the 1960s, and her work is noted for its innovative structure, sound, and rhythm. Like poet e. e. cummings, she used a lower-case version of her name for her published works. Bess Miller Moore was born on September 28, 1913, in Pace, Mississippi. Her grandfather was Choctaw. She later changed her name to the more phonetic spelling “Besmilr.” She graduated from Mary Hardin-Baylor College in Texas and later studied at the New School for Social Research in New York, where she met and married Roy Brigham, who worked for a newspaper. Brigham’s poems have been …

Brill, Howard Walter

Howard Walter Brill, a professor of law at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), earned a national reputation as an authority on legal ethics and served sixteen months, in 2015 and 2016, as chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. His 1986 book, Arkansas Professional and Judicial Ethics, and seven subsequent editions dictated the state’s regulation of the conduct of lawyers and judges for more than a generation. Howard Brill was born on October 18, 1943, in Englewood, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from New York City. His parents, Edwin Lois Brill Jr. and Catharine Linsmann Brill, were born in the Bronx and married there but moved across the river to New Jersey before Howard and …

Britt, “Footsie”

aka: Maurice Lee Britt
aka: Morris Britt
Maurice Lee “Footsie” Britt was an Arkansas native who rose to fame as an athlete, soldier, businessman, and state politician. He played football and basketball at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and then advanced to professional football, until the attack on Pearl Harbor propelled the country into World War II. Britt became an exemplary soldier as the first person in American history to earn all the army’s top awards, including the Medal of Honor, while fighting in a single war. After suffering numerous wounds, including one that caused his right arm to have to be amputated, Britt returned to Arkansas and undertook a career in business management. Later in life, he served two terms as the …

Britt, Terri Utley Amos

Terri Britt, who was Terri Utley at the time, was named Miss Arkansas USA in 1982, going on to win the title of 1982’s Miss USA and compete in the Miss Universe pageant, in which she was a finalist. She remains the only Miss USA to come from Arkansas. When Elizabeth Ward, who was Miss Arkansas, was named Miss America in 1982, it became the first time both Miss America and Miss USA title holders were from the same state in the same year. After a career in the entertainment industry, Britt went on to become a successful motivational speaker and author. Terri Lea Utley was born on November 19, 1961. In her hometown of Cabot (Lonoke County), she was …

Broadway Bridge

The Broadway Bridge was originally constructed in 1923 as a vehicular structure and replaced in 2017; it is one of six bridges linking the downtown areas of Little Rock (Pulaski County) and North Little Rock (Pulaski County). As the downtown areas of Little Rock and Argenta (present-day North Little Rock) developed in the 1880s, it became apparent that a toll-free bridge independent of the railroad bridges across the Arkansas River was needed. Some people supported the idea of a bridge at the foot of Little Rock’s Main Street, while others thought it should start at Broadway. After years of debate and a series of bridge commissions, the Main Street site was adopted, and the Groton Bridge Company of Groton, New …

Broadway, Shane

Shane Broadway was a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1997 to 2002, serving as speaker of the House from 2001 to 2002. In addition, he was member of the Arkansas Senate from 2003 to 2010 and interim director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education from 2011 to 2014. In 2014, Broadway was appointed vice president of governmental relations at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). Shane Broadway was born at Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton (Saline County) on August 30, 1972, to Charles and Bertha Broadway of Bryant (Saline County). He is the youngest of six children. Broadway attended Bryant High School and was designated an American Legion Boys State Delegate in 1989. Broadway …

Brockmeier, Kevin John

Little Rock (Pulaski County) author Kevin John Brockmeier is an award-winning novelist and short story writer who has been called one of “America’s best practitioners of fabulist fiction.” Brockmeier has received Arkansas’s top literary prizes (the Porter Fund Award for Literary Excellence and the Worthen Prize) and has been recognized nationally with numerous awards, including three O. Henry prizes, for his masterful use of figurative language in stories that combine reality and fantasy. Kevin Brockmeier was born on December 6, 1972, in Hialeah, Florida. His father, Jack Brockmeier, was an insurance agent, and his mother, Sally Brockmeier, was a legal secretary. His father was transferred to Little Rock, and so the family, including his younger brother Jeff, moved to Arkansas …

Bromine

Bromine (chemical symbol Br) is a highly corrosive, reddish-brown, volatile element found in liquid form. Bromine—along with fluorine, chlorine, and iodine—is part of a family of elements known as the halogens. Arkansas ranks first in the world in the production of bromine, the basis for many widely used chemical compounds. Bromine, along with petroleum and natural gas, is one of the top three minerals produced in Arkansas. The West Gulf Coastal Plain encompasses most of southern Arkansas. During the Paleozoic era (543 to 248 million years ago), this natural division was covered by seawater. Bromine, which occurs naturally in seawater, was extracted from the water by seaweed and plankton. As these organisms decomposed during the Jurassic period (206 to 144 …

Brooks, Millie Muriel Ward

Millie Muriel Ward Brooks was a long-time alderman in Wrightsville (Pulaski County). The new Wrightsville branch library of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) was named for her in 2013. Millie Muriel Ward was born on August 27, 1932, to Theodore Ward and Claudia B. Smith Ward, and she and her siblings lived with their parents in Wrightsville. She married Julius James Brooks Sr., and they had two children, Shanon and Tena. Millie Brooks entered politics later in life than is customary, besting two opponents to become Ward 2, Position 1 Wrightsville alderman in 1992. She apparently faced no other opponents for reelection during her tenure, and she died while in office on July 9, 2005. Her daughter Tena Brooks …

Brown, Evangeline Katherine

Evangeline Katherine Johnson Brown was a longtime educator and activist in the Arkansas Delta who served as a plaintiff and witness in Jeffers v. Clinton, a lawsuit that helped create new majority black districts for the Arkansas House of Representatives and the Arkansas Senate. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994. Evangeline Katherine Johnson was born in Norwood, East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, on February 23, 1909, the fourth child of James M. Johnson and Mamie C. Gilmore Johnson. Her father was a farmer who owned the family’s farm (with a mortgage). It was fairly uncommon for area families to own their farms at that time. The family frequently moved, and Johnson attended high schools in …

Brown, Helen Marie Gurley

Helen Gurley Brown was a native Arkansan whose career includes landmark achievements in advertising and publishing. She was considered a spokesperson for the women’s liberation movement and sexual revolution in the mid-twentieth century as author of the bestselling book Sex and the Single Girl (1962) and editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. Helen Marie Gurley was born on February 18, 1922, in Green Forest (Carroll County) to a family of modest means. Her father, Ira Gurley, finished law school in 1923 and was soon elected a state legislator. The family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) and settled in the Pulaski Heights neighborhood. In 1932, as her father was preparing to run for Arkansas secretary of state, he was killed in an elevator …

Brown, Irma Jean Hunter

Irma Hunter Brown of Little Rock (Pulaski County) served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1981 to 1998 and in the Arkansas Senate from 2003 to 2008. She was the first African–American woman elected to the Arkansas House and then became the first African-American woman elected to the Arkansas Senate.  Irma Jean Hunter was born on January 5, 1939, in Tampa, Florida, to Dovie Estoria White Hunter and Joseph Hartwell Hunter. She grew up in Forsyth, Georgia, where she attended segregated public schools and graduated from Hubbard High School. She moved to North Little Rock (Pulaski County) to attend Shorter College, received her associate’s degree in 1958, and then transferred to Arkansas AM&N (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), where she was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and graduated magna cum laude in 1960 with a double major in history and government and a minor in education. She taught in the …

Brown, Robert Laidlaw (Bob)

An attorney with a successful career in politics working for Dale Bumpers and Jim Guy Tucker, Robert L. Brown served as associate justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court from 1991 until his retirement in 2012. Brown authored several opinions that changed the landscape of Arkansas history, including the Lake View School District No. 25 v. Huckabee public school lawsuit and U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, which was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Robert Laidlaw (Bob) Brown was born in Houston, Texas, on June 30, 1941, to Robert and Katherine Brown; he had two sisters. His father Robert Raymond Brown was an Episcopal priest who began his ministry in Harlingen, Texas. Brown began his education in public school at …