On December 22nd, 1956, Arkansas hosted the first national championship football game of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Arkansas beat efforts by three other states to land the event, in part because the Louisiana legislature passed a law banning integrated sporting events in the state.
The Little Rock Chamber of Commerce worked with the Aluminum Company of America and Reynolds Metals Company to raise the fifty-thousand dollar fee to pay the CBS television network for hosting rights to what would be known as the Aluminum Bowl.
While the championship game, pitting Montana State College against St. Joseph’s College of Indiana, was a bust – only five thousand people braved miserable weather to watch the contest in Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium and it ended in a scoreless tie – it did mark a willingness of Arkansans to break the color line in collegiate athletics, though black players from both visiting teams were forced to stay in segregated hotels.
To learn more, visit EncyclopediaOfArkansas.net.