BBC Looks At Johnny Cash's Concert At Arkansas's Cummins Prison in 1969

Jan 4, 2013

Johnny and June Carter Cash talk with Arkansas Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller at Cummins Prison in 1969.
Credit Winthrop Rockefeller Collection

The late Johnny Cash was well known for his prison concerts, but this weekend the BBC will air a special looking at one lesser-known prison show that helped spur reform in Arkansas.  You can listen to the show here.

The international broadcaster sent a reporter from London to Arkansas to research the performance at Cummins Prison in 1969.

Dr. Colin Woodward, an archivist at UALR’s Center for Arkansas History and Culture, got the attention of the international broadcaster through an article he wrote about prison reform, thanks to the efforts of Johnny Cash and former Governor Winthrop Rockefeller.  You can read more about what led to the BBC's radio program here.

Woodward says Cash's show at Cummins helped bring attention to the deplorable conditions in Arkansas prisons, with rampant corruption, abuse, malnourishment and sanitation problems. 

"I think he really identified with prisoners and he wanted to shed light on the need for reform, the need for change," Woodward said.

"Johnny Cash and the Forgotten Prison Blues" will air on the BBC World Service, which you can stream on the link, four times over the weekend.  The times listed are Central Standard Time for people in Arkansas.

Saturday, Jan. 5, 3:05 am

Sunday, Jan 6, 8:05 am

Sunday, Jan. 6, 2:05 pm

Sunday, Jan. 6, 8:05 pm

The program will also air on BBC Radio 4 Monday at 10 am.