Encyclopedia of Arkansas Minute: Little Rock Censor Board

Jun 5, 2020

For more than sixty years, the City of Little Rock had a Censor Board to evaluate the “moral appropriateness” of public entertainment.

Created in 1911, the board met sporadically until it was revamped in 1926 and voted a year later to ban two African American newspapers that had covered the lynching of John Carter.

The board was reorganized after World War II with the added duties of watching for irreverent references to Jesus Christ and nudity and interracial love scenes in movies. At one point, the Censor Board ordered the Little Rock Public Library to remove "Return to Peyton Place" from its shelves; the library refused.

As social norms changed and the graphic nature of films increased, the board banned the X-rated film "Deep Throat" and in 1973 employees of the Adult Cinema theater were arrested for showing it. Though they were convicted, the board’s authority declined and after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling established stricter criteria for regulation of obscene material, it ceased to exist in 1975.

To learn more, visit EncyclopediaOfArkansas.net.