Arkansas Civil Rights

Friday is the first observance of an Arkansas state holiday honoring publisher John H. Johnson. He created Ebony magazine in 1945 and Jet magazine in 1951. Johnson was the founder, chairman, and CEO of Johnson Publishing Company, which at one time was the largest black-owned publishing company in the world.

John Walker
Arkansas Times

The body of lawmaker and civil rights attorney John Walker will lie in state at Arkansas' capitol as part of his funeral arrangements this week.

Secretary of State John Thurston announced that Walker's body will lie in state at the Capitol on Thursday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on the second-floor rotunda. Walker, 82, died at his Little Rock home on Monday.

The funeral for Walker is scheduled for St. Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, at 11 a.m. Friday.

Attorney and state Rep. John Walker of Little Rock.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas civil rights attorney and state lawmaker John Walker has died. He was 82. The Pulaski County Coroner’s Office says he died Monday at his home in Little Rock. A cause was not immediately reported.

Attorney Benjamin Crump (center) with plaintiffs Roderick Talley (left) and Derrick Davis (right ) at KUAR Wednesday.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A candidate for state representative who has filed a lawsuit against the Little Rock Police Department has been arrested after filming a traffic stop in southwest Arkansas.

KATV reports that Roderick Talley was charged by Arkansas State Police on June 8 in Hope for impeding traffic, driving with a suspended license and obstructing governmental operations.

Talley had previously filed a lawsuit against Little Rock's police department for its use of no-knock warrants after police blew open his apartment door in a raid.

Johnny Cash Daisy Bates
Library of Congress/ National Park Service

Arkansas is moving closer toward replacing its statutes at the U.S. Capitol with ones depicting civil rights leader Daisy Bates and singer Johnny Cash.

The House approved Tuesday by 71-12 vote legislation to replace the state's statues at the Capitol depicting Uriah Rose and James P. Clarke. Rose was a 19th century attorney and Clarke was a governor and U.S. senator in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The bill now heads to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who plans to sign it into law.

Mike Laux Lloyd St. Clair Benjamin Crump No knock raids police
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

More people are coming forward saying they too have been victimized through the Little Rock Police Department’s practice of "no-knock" drug raids. On Tuesday, civil rights attorneys Benjamin Crump and Mike Laux held a press conference that ran more than an hour and included 12 people sharing their experiences of officers using explosives to enter their homes.

Elizabeth Eckford
National Park Service/ Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A bench now on display across from Little Rock’s Central High School commemorates one key moment from the school’s desegregation. It is a replica of one Elizabeth Eckford of the Little Rock Nine sat on in 1957 after being kept from entering the school by national guardsmen.

Tuesday’s unveiling coincided with the 61st anniversary of the event.

Central High School’s Memory Project aims to encourage students to remember past events of the high school and to keep the memory of the Civil Rights Movement alive.

David Monteith / KUAR News

Little Rock’s Central High School is one of over 130 locations on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail that spans 14 states.

Lee Sentell, the director of the Alabama Tourism Department, has been a leader in developing the trail. Sentell spoke at the Clinton School of Public Service Monday.

“This is a process that started indirectly about 15 years ago,” said Sentell. “President Obama and the director of the National Park Service decided there needed to be more diversity in our national parks and in our nominations for World Heritage sites.”

Dick Marsico / New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection

Two events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr will be held in Little Rock Wednesday.

Governor Asa Hutchinson plans to make comments at the Capitol at 10 a.m. At 5 p.m., a candlelight vigil is being hosted at the Little Rock Central High National Historic Site. According to David Kilton, with the National Park Service, the milestone anniversary has helped bolster attendance, which had already been on the rise in recent months.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

One year after the Women's March drew thousands to the streets nationwide, including in Arkansas, demonstrators again made the journey to the Arkansas State Capitol to let their voices be heard. Though this year's March On, Arkansas! March to the Polls and ensuing Rally for Reproductive Justice had numerous callbacks to the previous march, including many signature pink hats, there was a marked shift in tone. Legislators, candidates and community organizers urged the public to channel their dissatisfaction into votes for progressive politics. 

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Little Rock Central High School is now joining five other sites across the city as part of a national project highlighting historically significant locations in the civil rights era.

The U.S. Civil Rights Trail includes over 100 museums, churches, and other landmarks across 14 states and Washington, D.C. that played a role in the struggle for equal rights for African-Americans in the 1950s and 60s.

HB 1228 religious freedom gay rights
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

For many, 2017 was a time of historic support for the rights of LGBTQ people. But, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, says more can be done to improve equality in  Arkansans.

David Monteith / KUAR

The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission and Habitat for Humanity joined forces Monday for a day of renovation at the former home of Daisy Bates in Little Rock to mark the beginning of a week of events leading up to the  national King holiday on January 15.

While volunteers Humanity fixed up the outside of the house, inside, museum board member Mary Hardin gave tours of the civil rights landmark.

Roy Reed
AETN

An Arkansas-born journalist and author who covered one of the key events of the civil rights era has died.

Roy Reed died Sunday night at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, according to his wife, Norma Reed. He was 87.

Roy Reed reported on the civil rights movement during the 1960s for the New York Times and in 1965 witnessed what became known as "Bloody Sunday" when police and others beat black marchers in Selma, Alabama.

Jacob Scott Goodwin
Lonoke County Sheriff's Office

An Arkansas man charged in the beating of a black man at the white nationalist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville has been extradited from Lonoke County jail to Virginia. 22-year old Jacob Scott Goodwin of Ward is charged with maliciously wounding DeAndre Harris along with two other men in a parking garage. Harris himself was also charged with assault.

Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley says they’ve been holding Goodwin since October 10th.

Example of someone holding a chicken by its feet in a processing plant.
Image via U.S. Department of Defense

The ACLU of Arkansas is investigating claims that an organization in Oklahoma known as Christian Alcoholics and Addicts In Recover (CAAIR) "is operating forced labor camps disguised as rehabilitation centers", according to a press release.

Hoxie Schools
Arkansas Secretary of State

Before the Little Rock Nine desegregated Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957, the northeast Arkansas town of Hoxie had already integrated its schools two years earlier.

In 1955 Hoxie, with a population of 1,855 at the time, gained national attention after its school board moved to end racial segregation. A new historical exhibit is on display at the Arkansas State Capitol, called “Hoxie Right in ‘55” so that the story of that town is not forgotten.

Bill Clinton Little Rock Nine
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public media

The surviving members of the Little Rock Nine and former President Bill Clinton marked the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High School on Monday. The ceremony was replete with jabs at how far is left to go to achieve progress in the era of President Donald Trump and a state-controlled school district.

The anniversary of the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock has brought national attention to Little Rock and renewed interest in the nine students who made history this month 60 years ago, even as a number of Little Rock residents talk of re-segregation of the school district and the ongoing state control of the city's public schools.

It’s been 60 years since Central High School was forced to desegregate, but a federal lawsuit now claims the Little Rock School District is racially biased when it comes to investing in facilities and programs.

Proving that’s true in fact won’t be enough to win the case, though. The suit's authors will have to prove district officials set out to discriminate.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

Visitors to Little Rock's Central High School will now have a way to explore the school’s historic past. An app developed by the Central High Civil Rights Memory Project in partnership with the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, uses first-person accounts to narrate a walking tour of the school.

George West taught civics at Central High, and now serves as education outreach coordinator at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. He has seen firsthand the impact the project has had on students.

Michael Hibblen
Governor's Office

Gov. Asa Hutchinson shared his thoughts with a national audience on President Trump's response to violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. In an interview Friday on NPR's All Things Considered, the Arkansas Republican said the president needs to send a clear message that "white supremacy, neo-Nazism has no place in American values."

But Hutchinson also spoke against the removal of Confederate statues and monuments, saying it would be dismantling history.  

A monument to the women of the Confederacy on Arkansas's Capitol grounds.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Events in Charlottesville, Virginia have sparked discussions in Arkansas about the proper response to Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, as well as renewed debate about the meaning of Confederate monuments. Take a listen to KUAR's interviews with state Rep. Bob Ballinger and pastor, judge, and author Wendell Griffen.

The Confederate soldiers monument at the state Capitol.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Democratic Party of Arkansas is calling for the removal of all Confederate monuments on public grounds. The state Legislature is not currently in session and no Democrats have volunteered themselves to lead any such effort. But the state party said in a statement that Confederate monuments only belong in museums and on private land.

“The time has come for these symbols of our past to be placed in museums and privately owned spaces rather than to continue to occupy public lands.

Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Hindsville) in 2015.
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

While Arkansas's U.S. Senators have roundly condemned white nationalists that rallied and rioted in Virginia this weekend, some members of the Arkansas Legislature are equating Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen with Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ activists.

On Wednesday morning State Representative Bob Ballinger tweeted:

At least two Arkansas residents found themselves the target of a social media doxxing this weekend, following the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that turned violent this weekend.

Doxxing comes from the word document and refers to the outing of a person’s real identity on social media to get revenge for something they did.

Or didn’t do, in this case.

Comedian Sasheer Zamata is at a crossroads.

Attorneys for the state of Arkansas want a court to cancel subpoenas issued in the battle over a gay-rights ordinance in Fayetteville, saying they're too broad.

The state Supreme Court struck down Fayetteville's anti-discrimination ordinance this year, saying it violates state law, but justices didn't rule on whether law is constitutional because that question wasn't addressed in the lower court.

Marissa Marisa Pavan Birth Certificate certificates same-sex marrriage
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Supreme Court has ruled for same-sex couples who complained an Arkansas birth certificate law discriminated against them.

The justices on Monday issued an unsigned opinion reversing an Arkansas high court ruling that upheld the law.

Under the law, married lesbian couples had to get a court order to have both spouses listed as parents on their children's birth certificates.

Protesters in the Street
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has vetoed a bill that would have criminalized mass picketing, saying it would restrict free speech.

Hutchinson vetoed the bill on Thursday. It had been passed by both chambers of the Arkansas Legislature.

The measure, sponsored by Republican Sen. Trent Garner, defines mass picketing as people assembling for demonstrations at or near a business, school or private facility.

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