Arkansas Moments

Arkansas Moments is a special feature of UA Little Rock's Public Radio that explores the history of the civil rights movement in Arkansas with Dr. John A. Kirk, George W. Donaghey Distinguished Professor of History and director of UA Little Rock's Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity.

jakirk@ualr.edu

Arkansas and Lynching

Dec 12, 2017

Between 1882 and 1968, Arkansas was in seventh place among U.S. states where African Americans were lynching victims. During that period, 226 African Americans lost their lives at the hands of white mobs. And these were only the recorded instances. The true figure is undoubtedly higher. Examined by per capita of population, Arkansas rises into second place just behind Mississippi. In other words, aside from Mississippi, African Americans were more likely to be murdered by a white mob in Arkansas between the years of 1882 and 1968 than in any other state in the nation.

Civil Rights and Sexual Assault

Dec 12, 2017

At the age of eight, Arkansas civil rights leader Daisy Bates discovered that her mother had been sexually assaulted, raped and murdered by three white men. Her father, she recalls, [quote] “told me of the timeworn lust of the white man for the Negro woman…I don’t remember a time when this man I called my father didn’t talk to me almost as if I were an adult. Even so, this was a difficult concept to explain to an eight-year-old girl; but he spoke plainly, in simple words I could understand… ‘Your mother was not the kind to submit…so they took her…They say three white men did it.

Civil Rights and Sexual Orientation

Dec 12, 2017

The landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 changed the trajectory of civil rights law. Previously, the Fourteenth Amendment’s “equal protection” clause had been foregrounded. But the Fourteenth Amendment only covered state action, and it did not prevent private businesses from practicing discrimination. Now, the law switched to the Commerce Clause of the constitution that gave the federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce.

Ivie Moore and Black Football Protests

Nov 15, 2017

Pine Bluff’s Ivie Moore was one of the University of Wyoming’s “Black 14” players dismissed from the squad for protesting racial discrimination in October 1969. The Cowboys were on a winning streak when one of their black players, Mel Hamilton, learned of a protest by the university’s Black Student Alliance ahead of the Brigham Young University game. The year before, black players had complained about racial epithets used by BYU players. They resolved to wear black armbands during the game in support of student demonstrations.

Maj. Gen Edwin Walker and Lee Harvey Oswald

Nov 15, 2017

Maj. Gen. Edwin Walker had a storied career. In 1957, he was in charge of federal troops sent by President Eisenhower to desegregate Central High School. But Walker carried out Eisenhower’s orders at Central only under duress. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy officially admonished Walker for trying to indoctrinate his troops with right-wing literature. Walker resigned in protest, resurfacing the following year as one of the leaders of an armed mob trying to prevent black student James Meredith from entering the University of Mississippi.

Act 10 and Academic Freedom

Nov 15, 2017

One of the most controversial acts passed by the 1958 Arkansas General Assembly was Act 10, which required state employees to list their political affiliations. The pro-segregation legislation went hand-in-hand with its fellow traveler of fervent anti-communism during the McCarthy era. It targeted purported subversives and enemies of the state, particularly members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which Act 115 barred from state employment.

Sputnik 1

Oct 5, 2017

What finally removed the Little Rock School Crisis from the international and national headlines in October 1957 was the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik 1, the first artificial earth satellite, which propelled the Soviets ahead in the Cold War space race. Radio Moscow enthusiastically charted Sputnik 1’s orbits around the earth, particularly noting its flights over Little Rock, Arkansas.

Grace Lorch

Oct 5, 2017

The 1957 school crisis produced a number of fascinating stories, many of them sidelined from the main narrative of events. Take, for example, Grace Lorch, the white woman who on September 4, 1957, defended Elizabeth Eckford from the mob at Central High School and escorted her onto a city bus. Lorch was married to Lee Lorch, a mathematics professor at Philander Smith College. The Lorches had previously been active in a number of civil rights causes.

Maj. Gen. Edwin Walker and James Meredith

Oct 5, 2017

The 1957 school crisis produced a number of fascinating stories, many of them sidelined from the main narrative of events. Take, for example, Maj. Gen. Edwin Walker, the man in charge of federal troops at Central High. Walker carried out Eisenhower’s orders at Central under duress. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy officially admonished Walker for trying to indoctrinate his troops with right-wing literature.

1957 Little Rock Crisis 60th Anniversary #1

Aug 10, 2017

Because of the events of the 1957 Little Rock school crisis, and the historic role the city has in the story of the civil rights movement, it remains, and will always remain, a bellwether for measuring the nation’s progress in education. On the sixtieth anniversary of the school crisis, that report card is far from exemplary. Little Rock’s public schools, like so many others across the South and across the nation, are hurtling back in time into a new age of resegregation.

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