Arkansas Civil Rights

A northwest Arkansas city is getting a second shot at banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as voters weigh whether to challenge a new state law aimed at banning such local protections.

Dr. John Kirk at KUAR in Little Rock.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

KUAR catches up with the new head of UALR’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity Dr. John Kirk to talk about his mission, perceptions of the state takeover of the Little Rock School District, and where Black Lives Matter fits in the narrative of the civil rights movement.

Cummins arkansas department of correction prison
Arkansas Department of Correction

Arkansas has the highest percentage of male inmates in solitary confinement in the country according to a new report.

Fayetteville's City Council in an August meeting on an anti-discrimination ordinance.
Jacqueline Froelich / KUAF

A state judge has ruled a northwest Arkansas city can vote next week on a proposal to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Washington County Circuit Judge Doug Martin on Thursday denied a motion to block next week's special election on the Fayetteville anti-discrimination ordinance.

Opponents of the ordinance had sought a temporary restraining order and had argued, among other things, that the ordinance violated a state law aimed at preventing local anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Arkansas Black Hall Of Fame Names 2015 Inductees

Sep 1, 2015
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

A cancer physician, a choreographer, a home-economics pioneer, and a NFL pro-bowler are among Arkansans named to the Black Hall of Fame Tuesday. Charles Stewart, the Hall of fame’s co-chair, said inductees are meant to inspire Arkansas’s African American community.

“We look for people who have Arkansas roots, who have achieved national or international acclaim in their chosen fields of endeavor. Sometimes, we will look at people who are just the salt of the earth and have made a difference here in Arkansas,” he said.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says a 2013 law allows someone to openly carry a handgun as long as they don't plan to illegally use it against another person.

The Republican said in an advisory opinion Friday that the law generally allows "open carry," but cautioned that other laws limiting handguns such as a ban on them on Capitol grounds and at schools are still in effect. She also noted that private property owners can still prohibit open carry of handguns.

As Arkansas contends with overcrowded prisons, high rates of recidivism among parolees, and the potential resumption of executions, a conference this weekend at the UALR Bowen School of Law is focusing on findings of a report by the Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System Project.

Susan Hutchinton Dale Charles Daisy Bates House Little Rock Nine
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The foundation that oversees the house where the Little Rock Nine coordinated efforts to integrate Central High School in the 1950s is launching a fundraising campaign. For $100 each, people can have their names and messages placed on 4x8 inch bricks that will make up a sidewalk leading to the home.

It will enable further renovations of the modest home at 1207 West 28th Street where L.C. and Daisy Bates lived during the time Mrs. Bates led efforts to allow the nine African-Americans to attend the formerly all-white school.

State Lawmaker Considering Changes To Religious Freedom Law

Aug 7, 2015
political animals clarke Tucker bob ballinger rex nelson
Sarah Whites-Koditschek

A state representative who opposed a religious conscience bill says increased preferences for LGBT people may be added in the next legislative session if religious rights for clergy are clarified. 

A marriage ceremony being performed in the Pulaski County Courthouse in May 2014.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

An opinion from the Arkansas attorney general’s office is giving some hope to justices of the peace who want to officiate weddings but be allowed to refuse the public service to same-sex couples.

JP Alan Malone of Cleburne County told KUAR on Thursday that he is encouraged by Wednesday’s advisory opinion in which AG Leslie Rutledge (R) contends the state’s religious freedom law might allow JPs to wed some, but not all.

Democratic Party of Arkansas Chair Vincent Insalaco in his office in Little Rock.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The head of the Democratic Party of Arkansas is considering a name change to the annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. Party Chair Vincent Insalaco told KUAR on Tuesday that the two former Presidents, with ties to slavery and Indian removal, don’t always live up to modern standards.

Web surfers who type in www.asahutchinson.com will be redirected to an LGBT chatroom by an Arkansan who says he’ll use the domain name in the next election to discuss Hutchinson’s record on gay rights.

Fort Smith Southside High School's mascot Johnny Reb.
fortsmithschools.org

UPDATE: The school board in Fort Smith voted unanimously on Monday night to end or phase out the use of Confederate-linked themes at Southside High School. Around 200 people attended the meeting to lend input to the decision.

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

In recent weeks, the battle over Confederate imagery has focused mainly on a flag, but for some the debate naturally extends to other symbols they see as offensive. As Arkansas, like many Southern states, continues to grapple with emblems of its past, the question arises: To what extent are monuments in public places an issue?

60th Anniversary Of Integration Of NE Arkansas School District

Jul 13, 2015
Hoxie 21
Johnathan Reaves / KASU

While Central High’s Little Rock Nine are remembered for their courage in 1957, the tiny northeast Arkansas town of Hoxie was first in the nation, peacefully integrating two years earlier. A ceremony over the weekend marked the 60th anniversary.

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