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

McKissic, James Henry (Jimmy)

Jimmy McKissic was a world-renowned pianist from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) who spent much of his life in France but performed throughout the world, including more than two dozen events at Carnegie Hall in New York. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994. James Henry McKissic was born on March 16, 1940, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Reverend James E. McKissic and Rosa Daniels McKissic; he had five brothers and five sisters, including one sister who was adopted. Growing up in Pine Bluff, McKissic was playing the piano by the age of three. He played in his father’s church and for other local congregations as a youth; his mother taught him until he …

McKrell, Jim

Jim McKrell is a broadcast personality whose career spanned many decades and included work in radio, television, and film. From his work in commercials for both local and national television to hosting game shows and appearing in TV shows and films, he compiled a wide-ranging set of credits for work both behind and in front of the camera. Jim “Mac” McKrell was born James MacKrell Jr. on October 12, 1937, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to James “Mac” MacKrell Sr. and Bess Irene Townsend MacKrell. He later changed the spelling of his last name. His father was a prominent local radio personality before getting involved in politics. He graduated from Covington High School in Covington, Louisiana, in 1955 and returned …

McLarey, Myra Dell

Howard County native Myra Dell McLarey is a teacher and an author of a wide variety of works, many influenced by her childhood in southwest Arkansas. She is best known for her 1995 debut novel Water from the Well, a semi-autobiographical work of fiction set in the fictional town of Sugar Springs, Arkansas. Myra Dell McLarey, the youngest of five children, was born on September 5, 1942, in Okay (Howard County), the company town of the Okay Cement Plant, to Charles Drowns McLarey Jr. and Josie Earline Fincher McLarey. Her father was a supervisor at the cement plant as well as a deputy sheriff and the elected constable of the Saratoga-Okay township; her mother was a homemaker and later a …

McLarty, Mack

aka: Thomas Franklin McLarty III
Thomas Franklin “Mack” McLarty III was the first Arkansan to serve as White House chief of staff. A kindergarten classmate and lifelong friend of President Bill Clinton, McLarty served as Clinton’s chief of staff from 1993 to 1994 and, later, as his special envoy for the Americas. He is now president of McLarty Associates, originally Kissinger McLarty Associates, an international advisory firm created in partnership with former secretary of state Henry Kissinger. Mack McLarty was born on June 14, 1946, in Hope (Hempstead County) to Thomas F. McLarty Jr. and Helen Hesterly McLarty. He has one younger brother. His father owned and operated an automobile dealership started by McLarty’s grandfather. His mother, active in community and charitable endeavors, became the …

McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education

The 1981–82 federal court case McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education constituted a challenge to the state’s Act 590, which mandated the equal treatment of creation science in classrooms where evolution was taught. On January 5, 1982, U.S. District Court Judge William R. Overton ruled Act 590 unconstitutional in light of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. His determination that creationism constituted a religious doctrine rather than a scientific theory had a profound impact on the nation, the ramifications of which are still being felt today. The draft of the model act which eventually became Act 590 originated in an Anderson, South Carolina, organization called Citizens for Fairness in Education. Its founder, Paul Ellwanger, working from a model prepared …

McMath, Phillip Hal

Phillip Hal McMath is a Little Rock (Pulaski County) trial attorney, an award-winning writer, a Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran, and an ardent advocate for preserving and promoting Arkansas literature and history. McMath has published four novels and numerous short stories and articles, along with producing two plays. His book Lost Kingdoms was the winner of the Arkansiana Fiction Award in 2009, while The Broken Vase received the Booker Worthen Prize in 2011 . McMath established the Porter Prize in 1984, which has made a significant contribution to literature in Arkansas. Phillip McMath was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Sidney Sanders McMath and Anne Phillips McMath on December 25, 1945; he has two brothers and two sisters. In 1948, McMath’s father was elected …

McNeil, W. K.

aka: William Kinneth McNeil
William Kinneth (W. K.) McNeil was a prominent folklorist and historian of Arkansas and Ozark regional folk traditions, especially their folk music and songs, speech, tales, and legends. He published books and articles in both popular and scholarly outlets and produced widely disseminated recordings. Most of his research was conducted while he held the post of folklorist from 1976 to 2005 at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View (Stone County), from which he drew materials for his public programming as well as writing. W. K. (or Bill) McNeil was born near the town of Canton, North Carolina, on August 13, 1940, to William McKinley McNeil, a sales manager, and Margaret Winifred (Rigdon) McNeil, an office worker; he had one …

McRae, Thomas Chipman, IV

Thomas C. McRae IV was the great-grandson of U.S. congressman and twenty-sixth Arkansas governor Thomas Chipman McRae. He descends from a family that has lived in Arkansas since about 1839. McRae became well known for his involvement in philanthropic ventures, business development, environmental issues, and politics. Thomas Chipman McRae IV was born in El Dorado (Union County) on June 11, 1938, to Carleton McRae, who was a chemical analyst, and homemaker Mary Joe Rogers McRae. He had a younger brother and sister. McRae was educated in the El Dorado school system and graduated from El Dorado High School in 1956. He then attended the University Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where he earned a BA in history in 1960, …

McReynolds, Walter Kevin

Kevin McReynolds, who grew up in Sherwood (Pulaski County), became a collegiate all-star baseball player at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in the 1970s and spent twelve high-achieving seasons in the major leagues. In a career spent mostly with the San Diego Padres and New York Mets in the National League, but also two years with the Kansas City Royals in the American League, McReynolds was a solid hitter but especially excelled as a defensive outfielder and as a canny base runner. For a few years, he held the major-league record for bases stolen in a season without a putout. Walter Kevin McReynolds was born on October 16, 1959, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the son …

Meador, Eddie Doyle

Eddie Doyle Meador was a star defensive back for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL) throughout the 1960s. A graduate of Arkansas Tech University in Russellville (Pope County), Meador was the recipient of numerous honors and recognitions over the course of a twelve-year career in the NFL. Eddie Doyle Meador was born on August 10, 1937, in Dallas, Texas, to Euell Meador, who was a mechanic, and Easter Meador. The family moved to Arkansas before his junior year, but a pre-season injury prevented him from playing for the school team that year. However, in 1954, as a senior, in his sole high school season, he led Russellville High School to the Region 3AA championship. A superb …

Medearis, Mary Myrtle

Though she always considered herself a musician, Mary Myrtle Medearis was best known as the author of Big Doc’s Girl (1942), a novel that grew out of an assigned autobiographical short story in a creative writing class. It has the distinction of having stayed in print longer than any other work of fiction by an Arkansan. Ever tenacious, Medearis had great success as a writer and historian in spite of her humble beginnings—and partly because of them. Mary Medearis was born in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) on May 31, 1915. Her mother, Myrtle Hendricks, taught piano. Her father, Dr. Robert Medearis, practiced medicine. Mary, whose maternal grandparents had been vaudeville performers, inherited her family’s love for music. By the …

Melody Boys Quartet

The Melody Boys Quartet was a Southern gospel music group based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Melody Boys Quartet officially disbanded on December 31, 2012, at the end of the group’s “Exit 63” tour, celebrating sixty-three years together. The group had its origins in the late 1930s when Herschel Foshee, aided by Joe Roper, created the Stamps-Baxter Quartet. The group was named after the music publishing company founded by V. O. Stamps and J. R. Baxter in 1926; the publisher was established in Texas but later opened an office in Pangburn (White County). The quartet’s original purpose was to sing and record the company’s publications exactly as printed and thus aid in selling Stamps-Baxter songbooks to interested musical groups …

Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport

The Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport near the city of Mena (Polk County) in the Ouachita Mountains of western Arkansas is located approximately 160 miles west of Little Rock (Pulaski County). It is an airport that focuses on private aircraft and does not have scheduled commercial air service. Beginnings The first rough airstrip was located south of the town on the McBride family’s property, and a hangar and flying school opened in 1942, run by Hartzell Geyer. The initial runway was a grass one that a local farmer would mow and bale for hay. Due to increased commercial traffic, the Civil Aeronautics Commission (CAC) after World War II determined that Mena would be needed as an emergency landing site for airplanes. …

Mental Health Council of Arkansas

The Mental Health Council of Arkansas (MHCA) is a nonprofit organization that has been working to improve the overall health and well-being of citizens in Arkansas since 1972. It was originally founded under the Federal Community Mental Health Construction Grant. The MHCA is composed of fifty psychiatrists and approximately 2,000 healthcare professionals and is governed by a board of directors. Its members provide comprehensive mental health services to Arkansans through the fourteen community mental health centers in Arkansas. The centers provide a variety of mental health services, such as individual and group psychotherapy and medication management; psychological, personality, forensic, and intellectual evaluations; emergency/crisis treatment; consultation/education programs; and partial hospitalization programs. The MHCA is a member of the National Council for …

Meriwether, John Thompson (Jack)

John Thompson (Jack) Meriwether was a city administrator whose later career in higher education channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to Arkansas colleges and universities. Meriwether was city manager—the city’s chief administrator—of Texarkana (Miller County) and then Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was an officer at a bank in his hometown of Paragould (Greene County) and was general manager of the Arkansas Gazette for several years. He also served as vice president for governmental relations for the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Jack Meriwether was born on November 23, 1933, to Ray Meriwether and Marie Thompson Meriwether in Paragould. His father and his uncle, Bill Meriwether, ran a hardware store started by his grandfather in 1883. Meriwether and his …

Merryman, James Harold

James Harold Merryman was a pilot and three-star general in the U.S. Army who aided in the restoration of aviation as an army branch of service for the first time since the Army Air Corps ceased to exist in 1948. General Merryman’s military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, two awards of the Legion of Merit, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, twenty-five Air Medals, and three Army Commendation Medals. James Merryman was born in Hot Springs (Garland County) on April 3, 1929, to Jim Merryman and Edith Agnes Dyer Merryman. His father was a mechanic and thirty-third-degree Mason, and his mother was a homemaker. He had one younger brother. As a youth, Merryman sold …

Meyer, Ronald Edward (Ron)

Ron Meyer was a graphic artist, journalist, satirist, newspaperman, and political cartoonist from Little Rock (Pulaski County). In the early 1960s, Meyer went to work for Sam Hodges at the Benton Courier, first in advertising and later as general manager. During his tenure, Meyer helped the paper achieve both state and nationwide recognition. He also worked as a freelance artist for several Little Rock firms before opening his own advertising agency. Ronald Edward Meyer was born on October 18, 1938, in Little Rock to Velma Irene Maghar Meyer and Raymond Edward Meyer, who was originally from Hazen (Prairie County). He had one brother, Gerald, and two sisters: Patricia and Betty. Meyer’s parents divorced when he was ten years old, leaving …

Mid-America Science Museum

Mid-America Science Museum’s mission is to stimulate interest in science, to promote public understanding of the sciences, and to encourage lifelong science education through interactive exhibits and programs. Located near National Park College (NPC) in Hot Springs (Garland County), the museum is a major tourist attraction in Arkansas, with an estimated 100,000 visitors annually. In the mid-1960s, Governor Winthrop Rockefeller conceptualized the Mid-America Science Museum as Arkansas’s first interactive, informal learning environment. Rockefeller held an exploratory symposium with various state leaders and engaged one of the nation’s foremost museum consultants to determine the feasibility of such a project. Eventually, Hot Springs was deemed the ideal location for such a museum. Governor Dale Bumpers continued the support of the idea, and …

Mid-Southern Watercolorists

Mid-Southern Watercolorists (MSW) was founded and incorporated in 1970 as a nonprofit organization by five artists: Doris Williamson Mapes, Bruce R. Anderson, Josephine Graham, Edwin C. Brewer, and Catherine Tharp Altvater. The purpose of MSW, which has its headquarters in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is to elevate the stature of watercolor and educate the public about the significance of watercolor as an important creative, permanent painting medium; to promote the highest aesthetic standards; and to further the interest of painters in watercolor by its programs and competitive exhibits. At the group’s first organizational meeting, nearly forty people, responding to a newspaper advertisement, met in the Sears Community Room at University Mall in Little Rock. MSW’s articles of incorporation and by-laws, …

Milam, Carl Max

Carl Max Milam was a printing plant superintendent, a university professor and department chairman, the director of a major Arkansas state government agency under two governors, the financial manager for Winthrop Rockefeller, a university president, and a business executive. A branch library of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) and a scholarship at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) were named in his honor. Max Milam was born on July 13, 1930, in Cecil (Franklin County) to Carl J. Milam and Letha Staton Milam. He graduated from high school in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). After high school and in between college enrollments, he worked as a printer and plant superintendent. He received a bachelor’s degree in …

Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel

aka: Cooper Chapel
The Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, commonly called the Cooper Chapel, is a non-denominational chapel in Bella Vista (Benton County) designed by architects E. Fay Jones, who also designed Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs (Carroll County), and Maurice Jennings, Jones’s business partner for twenty-five years. John Cooper Sr. built three retirement/recreation villages in Arkansas from the 1950s to the 1970s, including Bella Vista Village in northwestern Arkansas, which he opened in 1965. His wife, Mildred Borum Cooper, was his partner throughout these and other ventures. She, too, was successful in business, serving as postmistress in West Memphis (Crittenden County) and Cherokee Village (Sharp and Fulton counties) and owning gift shops in Cherokee Village and Bella Vista. She was also active …

Miles, Ann

Ann (Annie) Miles was an actress, stuntwoman, Playboy bunny, Broadway hairstylist, and model from Malvern (Hot Spring County). Miles began her career as a stuntwoman riding the famous diving horses on Atlantic City’s Steel Pier. Among other stunts on television and film, she performed the “spiderwalk” in director William Friedkin’s 1973 film The Exorcist, a scene that was cut from the film’s original release and for which she was initially uncredited. Miles also worked as a hair and wig stylist on and off Broadway in Manhattan, where she spent the bulk of her career. Lorena Ann Miles was born in Malvern on February 10, 1940. Her father, Hubert Eastham, later became executive vice president at Pine Bluff National Bank. Miles …

Miller, David

David Freeland Miller, who maintains a broadcasting studio in his Little Rock (Pulaski County) home, is producer and host of Swingin’ Down the Lane, a one-hour program that is broadcast weekly on more than forty National Public Radio (NPR) affiliates and independent commercial stations. The program is also heard on stations in Perth, Australia, and Hamburg, Germany. David Miller was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, on April 6, 1928, the third of four children of Alan and Margaret Miller. He received his secondary education at the Pingry School in Elizabeth. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Princeton University and master’s and PhD degrees, also in psychology, from the University of Michigan. While still pursuing his doctorate, Miller was …

Miller, John Eldon

John Miller of Izard County was a longtime Arkansas state legislator. Starting his tenure in the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1959, he became renowned for his budgetary expertise. Only when term limits prohibited him from running after his twentieth term did Miller step aside in 1998. John Eldon Miller was born on March 2, 1929, in Melbourne (Izard County). One of ten children of Green H. Miller and Annie Gray Miller, he lived in Izard County for all but one year of his life. Majoring in chemistry, Miller graduated from what is now Arkansas State University in Jonesboro (Craighead County) in 1949. On November 5, 1949, he married Roby Lenora Robertson; they had three children: a son and two …

Miller, John Elvis

John Elvis Miller, the son of a Confederate veteran, had a distinguished career in the law, sandwiched around a political career that took him to the U.S. Senate in one of the most startling Arkansas elections of the twentieth century. He was a prosecuting attorney, a congressman, and a senator, resigning the last position in 1941 when President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him U.S. judge for the Western District of Arkansas. John E. Miller was born on May 15, 1888, in Stoddard County, Missouri, the son of John A. and Mary Harper Miller. As a child, he helped his parents and seven siblings raise cotton and corn on their Missouri bootheel farm. When he finished the ninth grade, he took an …

Miller, Richard “Curly”

Richard “Curly” Miller was a renowned musician who lived in Kingston (Madison County). He and his wife, Carole Anne Rose, co-founded the band The Old 78’s. He was also a noted organic farmer, establishing Sweden Creek Farm with Rose in the deep woods of the Ozark Mountains. Richard Miller was born on August 10, 1954, to John C. Miller and Roberta Beck Miller in Baltimore, Maryland, although he was raised in Penfield, New York. He played classical violin as a child, rock-and-roll guitar as a teenager, and three-finger Leo Kottke–style guitar during his one semester at the State University of New York at Potsdam. Guitarists Doc Watson and Norman Blake inspired him to learn flat-picking guitar, while Frankie Gavin and …

Minari

Filmed in Oklahoma but set in Arkansas, the 2020 movie Minari tells the story of a Korean family who moved from California to the rural Ozarks due to the father’s hopes of establishing himself as a farmer of Korean vegetables. The movie, based upon the family experiences of writer/director Lee Isaac Chung, himself an Arkansas native, received near universal praise from critics and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The movie opens with the Yi family—father Jacob (Steven Yeun), mother Monica (Yeri Han), daughter Anne (Noel Kate Cho), and son David (Alan S. Kim)—moving into a mobile home situated on a patch of farmland in northwestern Arkansas. The exact location is not specified, but it is mentioned …

Minton, Clifford E.

Clifford E. Minton was a prominent Arkansas-born African American who spent a lifetime dedicated to social services. He is best known in Arkansas for his work with the Urban League of Greater Little Rock (ULGLR), especially with gaining employment for African Americans during the buildup of defense facilities for World War II. Clifford E. Minton was born on July 24, 1911, in Des Arc (Prairie County), the elder of two sons of Frank Minton and Jessie Carter Minton. His father was a skilled machine operator and millwright at the Bowman Hoop Plant. He credits his realization of racial inequality with such early experiences as seeing the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) march by the African Methodist Episcopal Church while he and …

Mississippi County Community College Solar Power Experiment

In 1976, the Department of Energy and the Solar Energy Research Institute were allotted funds for a Total Energy Solar Photovoltaic Conversion System that would be the largest of its kind in the world. The location chosen for the project was Mississippi County Community College (MCCC), now Arkansas Northeastern College (ANC), in Blytheville (Mississippi County). The project design included the installation of solar panels, as well as additional funding for the college facility. The main purpose of the project was to build an energy-efficient structure and harness solar power from the panels in order to coordinate, monitor, and manage energy production. With the United States facing an energy crisis in the mid-1970s, President Jimmy Carter created a comprehensive energy plan …

Mississippi County Historical and Genealogical Society

The Mississippi County Historical and Genealogical Society (MCHGS) was chartered in 1988 to promote, preserve, and protect the history of Mississippi County. Since its inception, MCHGS has actively fulfilled its mission through continuing efforts to educate the public and garner community support for historic preservation. The origins of MCHGS go back to 1987, when a group of county citizens led by Dr. Eldon Fairley, an Osceola (Mississippi County) physician, petitioned the Mississippi County Quorum Court to appoint a commission that would be empowered to form a historical society. After several organizational meetings, the appointed commission determined it would launch a historical society as well as provide sponsorship for an associated publication. At the society’s charter meeting on April 13, 1988, members …

Mitchell v. Globe International Publishing

aka: People's Bank and Trust Company of Mountain Home v. Globe International Publishing
Mitchell v. Globe International Publishing, Inc. 978 F. 2nd 1065 was a legal case involving First Amendment freedom of the press, as well as privacy issues. It originated in a lawsuit filed by ninety-six-year-old Nellie Mitchell, a native of Mountain Home (Baxter County). Mitchell sued Globe International, the publisher of the tabloid paper the Sun, for false light invasion of privacy after the paper published a photograph of her to illustrate one of its articles. When the jury returned a verdict in favor of Mitchell and awarded her a total of $1.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages, Globe appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which upheld the verdict. A final effort to appeal to …

Mitchell, Jerry

Jerry Mitchell was a longtime legal, courtroom, and investigative reporter. His dogged reporting led to the reopening of a number of important civil rights cases and, in doing so, helped bring to justice a number of individuals many years after they had committed their crimes. Jerry Mitchell was born on February 23, 1959, in Springfield, Missouri, to Jerry and Jane Mitchell. During his early years, his father served as a U.S. Navy pilot, causing the family to move several times. The family lived in California, first in San Diego and then San Francisco, before settling in Texarkana, Texas. Mitchell’s interest in journalism had begun in high school, where he served as editor of the school newspaper, and he was a …

Mitchell, Martha

aka: Martha Elizabeth Beall Jennings Mitchell
Martha Elizabeth Beall Mitchell gained worldwide recognition for her outspokenness during the Watergate scandal—a scandal that forced President Richard Nixon to resign from office on August 9, 1974. She was a renowned character in Washington DC. During President Nixon’s first term, her husband, John Mitchell, was attorney general. Nixon once said, “If it hadn’t been for Martha Mitchell, there’d have been no Watergate.” Martha Beall was born on September 2, 1918, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Her father, George V. Beall, was a cotton broker, and her mother, Arie Elizabeth Ferguson Beall, was a speech and drama teacher for fifty years in the Pine Bluff School District. Beall graduated in May 1937 from Pine Bluff High School, where she was …

Modern Era, 1968 through the Present

In November 2004, President George W. Bush joined former presidents George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter to speak at the dedication of the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York introduced her husband, Bill Clinton, who explained that the library’s architecture symbolized the bridging of past and future. Few states had changed as dramatically as Arkansas in the modern era, but the persistence of rural cultural traditions and economic structures were celebrated by contemporary political leaders as proof of a distinctive Arkansas path. State government had become more responsive and effective even as a one-party system of Democratic power remained intact until the end of the first …

Moncrief, Sidney

Sidney Alvin Moncrief is one of the greatest basketball players ever to come out of Arkansas. While playing guard for the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) basketball team from 1975 to 1979, Moncrief was named Southwest Conference Most Valuable Player and went on to help lead the Razorbacks to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament and ultimately to the NCAA Final Four in 1978. After college, Moncrief was picked in the first round of the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, where he went on to be a five-time NBA All-Star and earn the praise and respect of such NBA luminaries as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan. He was inducted into …

Monday, Rick

Rick Monday was an All-Star major league baseball player who played for nineteen seasons. He had his longest stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning a World Series with the team and going on to serve as a Dodgers broadcaster on television and radio. Monday is perhaps best known for a 1976 incident in which he prevented a flag from being burned on the field at Dodger Stadium. Robert James Monday Jr. was born on November 20, 1945, in Batesville (Independence County), the only child of Robert James Monday Sr. and Nelda Marie Monday. The family left Arkansas when Monday was young, and he grew up in Southern California. When Monday was twelve, his father left the family, leaving his …

Montague, Raye Jean Jordan

Raye Jean Jordan Montague was an internationally registered professional engineer (RPE) with the U.S. Navy who is credited with the first computer-generated rough draft of a U.S. naval ship. The U.S. Navy’s first female program manager of ships (PMS-309), Information Systems Improvement Program, she held a civilian equivalent rank of captain. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2018. Raye Jordan was born on January 21, 1935, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Rayford Jordan and Flossie Graves Jordan. She attended St. Bartholomew School before moving to Merrill High School in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), graduating in 1952. She attended Arkansas AM&N (now the University of Arkansas at …

Montgomery, Bonnie

Bonnie Montgomery is a singer, songwriter, and musician from Arkansas. A classically trained singer and pianist, she has made a name for herself in the field of country music, releasing several full-length albums and touring and performing with nationally known acts. Musician Dale Watson called her a “sophisticated badass who was born to sing,” while Counterpunch praised her “white trash arias, soaked in alcohol and sex.” Montgomery herself says music “connects us all” and is a “beautiful, spiritual thing.” Bonnie Jill Montgomery was born on August 18, 1979, in Searcy (White County) to Vani Quattlebaum Montgomery and Little Rock (Pulaski County) native Marcus Montgomery. Her father was a farmer and owner of a trucking company. Her mother became the owner …

Moon Trees

During the United States Bicentennial Celebration in 1976, sapling trees that had been grown from germinated seeds that had orbited the moon during the Apollo 14 mission were planted across the nation. Four of those saplings, commonly known as moon trees, were planted in Arkansas. In January 1971, Apollo 14, one of six NASA missions to land on the moon, was launched. During each mission, the astronaut were each allowed to carry a small amount of personal belongings, which could include items such as books, condiments, and holiday decorations. Among the possessions of Astronaut Stuart Roosa was a small metal canister about the size of a soft-drink can containing several hundred tree seeds. Roosa, pilot of Apollo 14 command module …

Moore, Bessie Grace Boehm

Bessie Boehm Moore was an educator and civic leader. She was widely known for her efforts in the promotion of libraries. Later in life, her focus was on economic education in the public schools and the creation of what is now the Ozark Folk Center State Park. She was inducted into the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2018. Bessie Grace Boehm was born on August 2, 1902, in Owensboro, Kentucky, to Edgar Boehm, a farmer, and Bessie Calloway Boehm, a homemaker. Her mother died a few hours after her birth. Boehm was taken to her aunt in Daviess County, Kentucky, where she lived until her father remarried when she was nine. Boehm learned to read at an early age …

Moore, Edward, Jr.

Edward Moore Jr. is a retired vice admiral who served in the U.S. Navy. At the time of his retirement, he was the highest-ranking African American in the navy. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999. Edward Moore Jr. was born on February 18, 1945, in New York City. He is the eldest child of Edward Moore Sr. and Freddie Mardell Hayes Moore, with two brothers and a sister. The family eventually moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County), where Moore graduated from Horace Mann High School in 1963. On April 2, two months before his high school graduation, Moore enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve. The day after his high school graduation, he departed Little …

Moore, James Norman (Jim)

James Norman (Jim) Moore bred a number of fruit species to be more easily grown in Arkansas. One of the world’s leading authorities on small fruits and a well-regarded professor at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), he co-wrote the field-changing Advances in Fruit Breeding (1975) and formed the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Fruit Breeding Program, which became the most productive in the world of horticultural science. Jim Moore was born on June 10, 1931, in Plumerville (Conway County) and grew up in Vilonia (Faulkner County). Moore earned a BSA in 1956 and an MS in 1957 from the University of Arkansas. He married Jan Moore before they moved to New Jersey in 1957 for …

Moore, Justin Cole

Justin Moore is a popular country music singer and performer from the small town of Poyen (Grant County). In 2009, his Arkansas-inspired song “Small Town U.S.A.” became his first breakthrough hit, landing at number one that year on the country charts. His self-titled 2009 album went gold, as did its follow-up Outlaws Like Me in 2011. In 2014, Moore was named Best New Artist by the Academy of Country Music. Justin Cole Moore was born on March 30, 1984, in Poyen to Tommy Ray Moore and Charlene Webb Moore. He has no siblings. Moore’s father worked for the local post office, and during his childhood, his parents owned a small restaurant. Moore worked most of his youth on his grandparents’ …

Moore, Rudy Ray

African-American comedian, singer, film actor, and film producer Rudy Ray Moore was known as “king of the party records” because of the popularity of his comedy albums. He released many comedy albums in the 1960s and 1970s and was best known for the character Dolemite, which he developed in his standup routine and portrayed in two films, Dolemite and The Human Tornado. Rudy Ray Moore was born on March 17, 1927, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). The oldest of seven children, he often sang in church and developed a taste for performance. After his mother married, he lived briefly in nearby Paris (Logan County) before moving back to Fort Smith. He moved to Cleveland, Ohio, at the age of fifteen …

Moorman, Charlotte

aka: Madeline Charlotte Moorman Garside
Charlotte Moorman was a cellist, avant-garde performance artist, and founder of the New York Avant Garde Festival. Madeline Charlotte Moorman was born on November 18, 1933, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to J. R. and Vernan Moorman; her father was a sales manager. Moorman began playing the cello at the age of ten, going on to perform with local symphonies while enrolled at Central High School. A member of the National Honor Society and a Central High debutante group called the Southernaires, Moorman graduated in 1951 and attended Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana, on a music scholarship. After receiving a BA in 1955, Moorman earned a master’s degree in 1957, studying under illustrious concert cellist Horace Britt at the University …

Moran, Bill, Jr.

aka: William F. Moran Jr.
William F. Moran Jr. was the father of both the American Bladesmith movement and the modern forging of Damascus steel. Moran rediscovered the ancient process of making Damascus steel (layered steel) and incorporated this steel into his knives. Named in his honor, the unique Bill Moran School of Bladesmithing was located on the grounds of Historic Washington State Park before relocating to Texarkana, Texas, in 2019. Moran’s legacy added to the historic fabric of Arkansas’s knife heritage and helped preserve the timeless art of knife making. Knives made by Moran are now some of the most valuable in modern handmade custom knives. Bill Moran was born on May 1, 1925, to Margaret Reid Moran and William Francis Moran Sr., who …

Morgan Nick Alert

The Morgan Nick Alert is the Arkansas name for the nationally recognized Amber Alert Program designed to alert citizens that a juvenile is missing. For this reason, the Morgan Nick Alert is more formally known as the Morgan Nick Amber Alert. Named after Morgan Nick, a then six-year-old girl who went missing from Alma (Crawford County) in 1995, the Morgan Nick Alert is a partnered approach by local law enforcement, media, and civic groups to increase awareness of a possible abduction and thereby increase the probability of locating a missing child. On June 9, 1995, Morgan Chauntel Nick was presumably abducted from the parking lot of a city park in Alma. Although thousands of leads have been investigated by the …

Morgan, Gordon Daniel

Gordon Morgan was an activist, educator, author, and prominent sociologist during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In 1969, he became the first African American faculty member of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Gordon Daniel Morgan was born in Mayflower (Faulkner County) on October 31, 1931, to the farming family of Roosevelt Morgan and Georgia Madlock Morgan. He had one brother and two sisters. He moved to Conway (Faulkner County) at an early age and graduated in 1949 from Pine Street School, a respected African American educational institution in Conway during segregation. Four years later, he graduated from Arkansas AM&N (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) with a BA in sociology. His education was interrupted …

Morgan, Speer

The author of novels and short-story collections, Speer Morgan is a professor and the editor of The Missouri Review. Many of Morgan’s novels are set in Arkansas, including The Freshour Cylinders (1998), which won Foreword Magazine’s Silver Award for the best book of the year and an American Book Award in 1999. Speer Morgan was born in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) on January 25, 1946, to Charles Donald and Betty (Speer) Morgan. Morgan attended the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, from 1964 to 1966, as well as the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where he received a BA in 1968. He married that same year. He received a PhD in 1972 from Stanford University. Morgan was …

Moroles, Maria Christina DeColores

Maria Christina DeColores Moroles (also known by the ceremonial names Sun Hawk and Aguila) is best known for founding and maintaining Santuario Arco Iris, an intentional land community in Ponca (Newton County) designed specifically as a “sacred land space” for women and children, especially marginalized women and children of color. Moroles, a so-called two-spirit woman of Mexican and Indigenous American descent, began living on the 500-acre wilderness preserve in 1976. (Moroles prefers the pan-Indian term “two spirit” to the term “lesbian” to describe a third or non-binary gender identification and sexual orientation that derives from Native American ceremonial roles and culture.) Maria Christina DeColores Moroles was born on October 17, 1953, in Corpus Christi, Texas, to Jose Elizondo Moroles of …