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

Black Mayors: Lottie Shackleford

Oct 2, 2018

Lottie Shackleford was the first woman, and the second African American, to serve as mayor of Little Rock from January 1987 to December 1988. Shackleford, born in Little Rock, earned a B.A. in Business Administration at Philander Smith College in 1979. She then worked for the Urban League of Greater Little Rock, the Economic Opportunity Agency of Pulaski County, the Opportunities Industrialization Center, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Black Mayors: Charles Bussey

Oct 2, 2018

In November 1981, Charles Bussey became Little Rock’s first African American mayor. Hailing from Stamps, Arkansas, after World War II Bussey brought together a number of black veterans to form the Veterans’ Good Government Association. In 1947, Bussey successfully ran for the position of “bronze mayor,” an annual election held in Little Rock in which whites usually handpicked an unofficial black mayor to represent black community interests. Bussey provided an upset in the election by persuading blacks to vote for him instead of the white-sponsored candidate.

Black Mayors: Jeffery Hawkins

Oct 2, 2018

Jeffery Hawkins was known as the unofficial mayor of Little Rock’s East End black community for over five decades. Hailing from Ashley County, Arkansas, Hawkins moved to Little Rock at the age of 18 in 1923. In 1949, Hawkins formed the East End Civic League to lobby white politicians for the improvement of street lighting, roads and pavements. In 1964, Hawkins became one of the first black employees of the city when he was hired as a building inspector. Later, he was hired by Pulaski County to serve as a deputy tax collector.

The Tossed Year #1

Sep 4, 2018

Sixty years ago this month, Little Rock voters decided by an almost 3-to-1 margin to keep closed all of the city’s public high schools rather than desegregate them. Gov. Orval Faubus had closed the schools under segregationist Arkansas General Assembly legislation. The public high schools remained closed for an entire school year. Sometimes this is misleadingly referred to as the Lost Year.

The Tossed Year #2

Sep 4, 2018

Sixty years ago this month, Little Rock voters decided by an almost 3-to-1 margin to keep closed all of the city’s public high schools rather than desegregate them. A group of strictly segregated white women formed the Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools that unsuccessfully campaigned against closed schools. The women then pressured the white male business community to act.

The Tossed Year #3

Sep 4, 2018

Sixty years ago this month, Little Rock voters decided by an almost 3-to-1 margin to keep closed all of the city’s public high schools rather than desegregate them. Gov. Orval Faubus pressured the Little Rock school board to lease the public schools to a private corporation. The courts blocked the move. Faubus then used state money to assist the private corporation in purchasing private buildings to use as schools. The private corporation eventually went broke.

The Tossed Year #4

Sep 4, 2018

Sixty years ago this month, Little Rock voters decided by an almost 3-to-1 margin to keep closed all of the city’s public high schools rather than desegregate them. For an entire school year the city had no functioning public high schools at all. Teachers sat in empty classrooms while many students went without any access to an education.

Sixty years ago this month, the Arkansas General Assembly convened a special session to pass a whole raft of prosegregation legislation. Act 4 allowed the governor to close any school district that was under threat of integration. Act 5 allowed student funding to be transferred from closed public schools to private schools. Act 6 allowed students to transfer from a closed public school to a private school. Act 7 gave white students the right not to be taught in a classroom with black students. Act 10 ordered all public school teachers to disclose any group memberships.

Sixty years ago this month, the Arkansas General Assembly convened a special session to pass a whole raft of prosegregation legislation. Act 10, introduced by Attorney General Bruce Bennett, ordered all public school teachers to disclose group memberships. The intent was to harass and intimidate members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which the state blamed for school desegregation. Some teachers refused to divulge the information. These included Little Rock teachers B. T. Shelton and J. O. Powell, as well as University of Arkansas professor Max Carr.

Sixty years ago this month, the Arkansas General Assembly convened a special session to pass a whole raft of prosegregation legislation. Act 17 created new punishments for disturbing the peace in a public place, an express attempt to circumvent any sit-in demonstrations in the state. Although the lunch counter sit-ins did not sweep across the South until early 1960, there had been several isolated attempts at such demonstrations in Kansas and Oklahoma in the summer of 1958. Little Rock’s first sit-ins came in March 1960 led by Philander Smith students.

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