Arkansas History

The recent Johnny Cash Heritage Festival in Dyess has reneweed interest in the musical legend's childhood. 

In this new video from Arkansas Public Media, we take a look inside the agricultural resettlement home in rural Dyess where Johnny, then known as J.R., lived with his parents and six siblings after the Great Depression. 

Johnny Cash Festival To Honor 50th Anniversary Of Prison Concert

Oct 16, 2018
Johnny Cash Boyhood Home
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Man in Black was on the verge of losing it all. He was recently divorced, and drugs and alcohol continued to ravage Johnny Cash’s body and mind. He needed a comeback, and it was time to gamble.

Cash arrived at Folsom, a prison near Sacramento, Calif., on Jan. 13, 1968. His performance in front of about 1,000 inmates, became one of the most iconic moments in American music and resurrected his career.

Students prepare for a previous presentation of Tales of the Crypt at Little Rock's historic Mount Holly Cemetery.
Parkview High School

Rain is again impacting the annual Tales of the Crypt which is normally held at Little Rock’s historic Mount Holly Cemetery. The event features high school students portraying the many notable people who are buried there.

It was originally scheduled to be held last Tuesday, Oct. 9, but thunderstorms prompted organizers to postpone it until this Tuesday. With rain again in the forecast, the event will not be held at the cemetery, but instead in the auditorium at Parkview Arts & Science Magnet High School.

Students prepare for a previous presentation of Tales of the Crypt at Little Rock's historic Mount Holly Cemetery.
Parkview High School

UPDATE: With rain in the forecast Tuesday evening, Tales of the Crypt has been postponed, now scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 16 beginning at 6 p.m.

ORIGINAL STORY:  

Parkview High School’s drama department will present its 24th annual Tales of the Crypt at Little Rock's Mount Holly Cemetery on Tuesday. Students will portray notable Arkansas residents who are buried at the historic cemetary. 

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.

Hotel Pines
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A $35 million project is underway in Pine Bluff to restore the once-grand Hotel Pines. The 105-year-old structure at the corner of 5th Avenue and Main Street was designed by George Mann, the same architect who designed the Arkansas state Capitol and the Marion Hotel in Little Rock.

Relocation, Arkansas: Aftermath of Incarceration
www.relocationarkansas.com

A documentary film probes the impact that a World War II Japanese American internment camp had on a community in southeast Arkansas, and on later generations. "Relocation, Arkansas: Aftermath of Incarceration" is being shown Friday at 3 p.m. at the Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock.

Louis Jordan Highway
Stephen Koch / Arkansongs

A pioneering musician from Brinkley is being posthumously honored by having part of U.S. 49 in eastern Arkansas dedicated as the Louis Jordan Memorial Highway. A ceremony was held Monday with officials from the Arkansas Department of Transportation and other dignitaries who came together to unveil a sign alongside the highway.

KAAY Barry McCorkindale Arkansas Sounds John Miller
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A legendary Little Rock radio station will be celebrated with an event Friday night. In its heyday during the 1960s and '70s, KAAY-AM 1090 played top 40 music during the day and progressive rock at night. With a powerful signal that reached most of Arkansas during the day, at night KAAY's secondary pattern reached much of the U.S., as well as other counties.

Arkansas Celebrates 182 Years Of Statehood

Jun 14, 2018
Arkansas Secretary of State

Admitted in 1836 as the 25th state to enter the country, Arkansas has seen its fair share of historical events in its journey from territory to statehood. The state is commemorating its 182-year history with a birthday celebration Friday.

The Old Statehouse Museum in Little Rock recognized the birthday anniversary with a kickoff event last Saturday. The museum is partnering with several local businesses throughout the week who will be donating a portion of their proceeds to museum funds leading up to Friday.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / ARKANSAS PUBLIC MEDIA

James White stands in front of what he says will be the site of a small museum memorializing the state’s largest massacre of blacks in 1919.

It’s a boarded up storefront — a brick corner building on the main drag of downtown Elaine, Arkansas, a town of just over 600 people in the Arkansas Delta.

Elaine Race Massacre
Arkansas State Archives

King cotton’s prices were on the rise, but the black sharecroppers who picked it were not benefiting. It was Sept. 30, 1919, and the harvest was about to get underway.

About 100 sharecroppers met at a church in the town of Elaine, a small town in Phillips County that sits in the vast Mississippi Delta Region. Armed black guards protected the people inside. Suddenly, white men appeared outside.

The Gangster Museum of America

Baseball players will join organized crime figures at the Gangster Museum of America in Hot Springs.

Museum owner Robert Raines says a century ago the city played a significant role in spring training and believes what is now a gallery will soon become something larger.

“We do want to put together a national museum, so this is just a little snippet of what is to come. There’s a lot of baseball history here, so we’ll start reaching out to some major corporations here later this summer and hopefully within a couple of years we’ll have it all put together,” Raines said.

Bill Clinton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Bill Clinton was known as the rock ‘n’ roll president – the first from a generation that grew up on the music to reach the highest office in the nation. Sunday, he spoke at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock at the opening of a temporary exhibit that looks at the impact rock music has had over the years on politics and social movements.

The city of Walnut Ridge is the only city in Arkansas where the Beatles ever set foot during their touring days as a band, and seven years ago Mayor Charles Snapp and a group of civic leaders wanted to commemorate the event with a festival. This year, it struck gold.

Beatles at the Ridge was chosen by the Arkansas Festivals and Events Association (AFEA) as its Gold winner, or the best festival in the state in 2017. Snapp told Talk Business & Politics he can’t believe this event, without a single paid staffer, has been selected as the best in Arkansas.

Dr. Kenneth Jones and and Dr. Laverne Bell-Tolliver were two of the 25 students who desegregated Little Rock's junior high schools in phase two of the school district's desegregation plan. Bell-Tolliver edited the book The First Twenty-Five, An Oral Histo
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The story of the 1957 desegregation of Little Rock’s Central High School by nine black students is well known. But overshadowed is phase two of the school district’s desegregation plan, which involved 25 students attending five previously all-white junior high schools in 1961 and 1962.

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.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a pioneering gospel singer and guitar player from Arkansas, will be among the 2018 inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was born in the Woodruff County town of Cotton Plant in 1915 and achieved fame in the 1930s.  Tharpe was among six acts announced Wednesday for next year's induction ceremony and will be honored in the category Early Influences. 

Stephen Koch, host of the weekly feature Arkansongs, says given her influence, it’s an honor long overdue. He spoke with KUAR during All Things Considered.

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.

John Rogers
Mark Friedman / Arkansas Business

A plea and arraignment hearing is scheduled for Monday in Pulaski County Circuit Court for former Arkansas sports memorabilia dealer John Rogers. He's facing state charges while awaiting sentencing next month on a federal wire fraud charge.

The new charges stem from the alleged theft by Rogers of three hard drives containing images valued at $364,167. In March he pleaded guilty in federal court after reaching a plea agreement that acknowledged he took part in an effort "to fraudulently obtain at least approximately $10 million" from investors, financial institutions and customers. Prosecutors say Rogers used a variety of schemes that included false pretenses, misrepresentations and lies.

The Johnny Cash Heritage Festival in Dyess takes place Thursday through Saturday, October 19-21.  In this interview, KASU News Director Johnathan Reaves talks with the Director of the Arkansas State University Heritage Sites Dr. Ruth Hawkins to learn why this year's celebration of Johnny Cash turned from just a music festival to more of a symposium/music festival.  Click on the Listen button to hear more.  

Ellis “CeDell” Davis, an Arkansas blues musician known for his slide guitar playing, died Wednesday night at the age of 91. The Helena native and long-time Pine Bluff resident had been in and out of hospitals in recent weeks due to heart related complications. Health problems dogged him throughout his life but also gave birth to the sound for which he became known.

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.

Tree Project Honors Arkansans Who Died In World War I

Sep 26, 2017
In 1919, this ring of holly trees was planted as a living memorial to honor Henderson students and a teacher killed during World War I.
www.hsu.edu

A new effort aims to provide a living memorial to the Arkansans who died during World War I.

A memorial tree project is underway by the Arkansas World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee in partnership with the state Forestry Commission. The goal is to place a tree in every county in Arkansas.

UCA / University of Central Arkansas

A preview of a scene from an opera depicting the desegregation of Little Rock's Central High School in 1957 is scheduled for Monday evening at the University of Central Arkansas.

The event is one of several commemorating the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of the school. UCA’s College of Fine Arts and Communication commissioned the opera, entitled “The Little Rock Nine,” which is being composed by Tania Leon. In an interview for KUAR’s Arts Scene program, Leon said she didn’t know much about the event when she was first approached to compose the opera.

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.

World War I Sabin Howard
Sabin Howard

Work is progressing ahead of a ceremonial groundbreaking on Nov. 9 for a National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC commemorating the service of Americans in the military. The memorial likely won’t be completed as initially hoped in time for 100th anniversary of the end of the war, but substantial work should be visible by then.

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.

Former President Bill Clinton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Former President Bill Clinton is to deliver the keynote address at a ceremony next month that will cap four days of events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School. The eight surviving members of the Little Rock Nine, who integrated the formerly all-white school in 1957, are also expected to take part.

A sunken ship may turn into a tourist site in eastern Arkansas. A paddle wheel steamboat called the Sultana caught fire in 1865, just days after the end of the Civil War. Over 1,200 Union soldiers died, making it the biggest maritime disaster in U.S. history.

The ship's wreckage currently rests underneath a soybean field in Marion where the Mississippi River once ran. Project Director Louis Intres tells KATV-TV that plans are in progress to build a 10,000-square-foot, $3 million Sultana Disaster Museum.

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