Arkansas History

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.

Christopher Columbus Pinta Nina
Great Lakes Today

Replicas of two ships used by explorer Christopher Columbus, which led to the European colonization of the Americas, are to visit Arkansas in October and November. The replicas of Niña and Pinta are traveling together around the U.S. to help people learn more about the voyage in 1492 that led to the discovery of what was called the New World.

But a recent stop along Lake Ontario in north-central New York drew protests from Native Americans who say the ships only tell half of the story.

Levon Helm
Kevin Kresse

A fundraising campaign has been launched to create a permanent memorial in east Arkansas for Levon Helm. The legendary drummer and singer, who was best known for his work with The Band, grew up in the Phillips County community of Turkey Scratch, helping his family pick cotton.

Plans are to finish restoring the sharecropper's house his family lived in, which has been moved to the nearby town of Marvell. A statue of Helm is also to be completed and placed downtown.

Several toddlers huddle under an oak tree on the Harrison town square pretending to burn something.

"P-wish," a little boy says.  "I’m going to light the fire up!”

Their parents stand a few feet away, with roughly 60 other Ku Klux Klan members holding placards as a gay pride parade goes by. The air vibrates with chants and counter-chants, some of the anti-LGBTQ shouts vulgar. The Klan protestors follow the pride procession for several blocks, converging on a local park where parade members are staging a small festival. Protestors are barred from the gated event so take up positions around the perimeter. Many are mothers pushing infants in strollers, children and teenagers, as well as single women, all members of the Christian Revival Center, operated by Pastor and Ku Klux Klan leader, Thomas Robb. 

The Arlington Hotel
www.arlingtonhotel.com

A group from Little Rock is acquiring the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs for an undisclosed amount of money.

The Hot Springs Sentinel-Record newspaper reported Monday that Sky Capital Group LP is buying the state's largest hotel from Southwest Hotels Inc., which has operated the hotel since 1954.

The Arlington Hotel has 478 rooms, along with a spa, a bathhouse, a convention center, ballroom and lobby bar. Sky Capital also operates the Four Points Sheraton in Little Rock.

Erin Fehr
Darcy Hagood / KUAR News


The Sequoyah National Research Center, a Native American archive and gallery on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, is unveiling a new exhibit Tuesday. Entitled “Native Voices,” it examines the diverse and holistic ways many Native Americans approach illness and health.

Little Rock Nine 9
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, joined Tueday (May 23) with civil rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont to introduce legislation expanding boundaries of the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site.

This expansion would mean seven homes located near Little Rock Central High School would be included in the school’s national historic site designation and preserved by the National Park Service. The legislation is being introduced ahead of the city’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine in September.

Preserve Arkansas, which each year releases a list of 10 most endangered places, has released its list for 2017.  

From the group's press release:

Cemeteries, Burial Grounds, and Graveyards
Statewide

Copyright 2019 KUAR. To see more, visit KUAR.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

arkansashouse.org

The Arkansas House of Representatives voted Friday to give final legislative approval to a bill that ends the official recognition of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. on the same day. The House passed SB519 on a 66-11 vote, with five members voting present and 18 not voting.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and State Senator David Wallace (R-Leachville) presenting the MLK/Lee Day bill in committee.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

After several years and multiple failed attempts, a renewed effort to remove Arkansas’s celebration of Robert E. Lee from the state holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. is headed for a final vote. An Arkansas House committee advanced the Senate-approved bill Tuesday evening on a voice vote. Arkansas is one of three states to mark King and Lee on the same day.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and State Senator David Wallace (R-Leachville) presenting the MLK/Lee Day bill in committee.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Martin Luther King Jr. Day would stand alone, separated from Arkansas’s dual observance with Robert E. Lee, under a proposal advanced by a Senate committee. On a voice vote Thursday, legislation passed to move the observance of Lee to October. Governor Asa Hutchinson led the cause to disjoin the Civil Rights leader and Confederate general.

“The fact is celebrating Martin Luther King on the same day as a Confederate general gives Arkansas a sense that you make a choice and this choice diminishes the contributions of Dr. King,” Hutchinson told committee members.

Governor Asa Hutchinson signed bill dinosaur
Governor's Office

It's a designation more than 65 million years in the making.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday signed a resolution designating the Arkansaurus fridayi as the state's official dinosaur. The move makes Arkansas the 10th state to have its own official dinosaur.

The dinosaur was first discovered in a gravel pit near Lockesburg in 1972 by Joe Friday, for whom it was named.

State Rep. Greg Leding proposed designating it as the state's official dinosaur at the encouragement of Mason Cypress Oury, a high school student in his district.

An annual music festival to celebrate the music of the Man in Black is literally being moved to the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home…or that is, next to the home.  

In 2011, Arkansas State University started the process of acquiring and restoring the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess.  In order to raise funds for the project, the Johnny Cash Music Festival was held in Jonesboro. 

John Cain
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

John Cain, who has been a familiar radio voice for a half-century in central Arkansas, marked his 80th birthday Wednesday. He is also known for his efforts to preserve African-American culture. Many longtime friends and colleagues came together at Little Rock's White Water Tavern that night to celebrate with live music and cake.

Cain, who is program director of community radio station KABF-FM 88.3, has also hosted KUAR's 52nd Street Jazz for more than three decades. He has been on the air in some capacity for "51 years and counting."

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

'Heritage not hate' is an oft heard refrain from Arkansans working to protect the state's dual observance of Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King, Jr. But throughout 2015 and 2016 long-established heritage groups, like the Sons of Confederate Veterans, overlapped and interacted with modern-day Southern, white nationalist groups like the League of the South on numerous occasions.

State Rep. Charles Blake (D-Little Rock) testifying to end the joint observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert E. Lee. (2015 file photo)
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Heading into Arkansas's concurrent observances of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Robert E. Lee Day some lawmakers were predicting this could be the last year for the joint state holiday. But despite the backing of the state's Republican governor, no one has stepped forward to carry the legislation.

Japanese-American Internment Camp
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies

During World War II more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans who had done nothing wrong, but were deemed a threat to the United States, were housed in internment camps. Two of the 10 camps were located in Arkansas. An exhibit opening Friday night in Little Rock helps to visualize the experience by showing artwork created by those held at the Rohwer Relocation Center in southeast Arkansas.

The Holly Jolly Trolley: A Ride Through Arkansas History

Dec 21, 2016
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

On this special holiday episode of Arts & Letters, we uncover true tales of Arkansas's past while touring the streets of Little Rock and North Little Rock inside the Rock Region Metro Streetcar—our “Holly Jolly Trolley.”

 

Along the streetcar rails we enounter a cast of characters, who tell of the cities' history bound up in the brick and mortar of the buildings—filled with ghosts and song.

 

Dr. Daniel Littlefield, the director of the Sequoyah National Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
UALR

The months-long encampment of thousands of Native Americans at Standing Rock, to block the path of a U.S. Army acting to further the interests of extractive industries, seems both remarkable and routine in the history of American Indians.

KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman spoke with Dr. Daniel Littlefield, the Director of the Sequoyah National Research Center at UALR to put some context to the fight.

Hoga
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is highlighting a week of events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

North Little Rock may seem an unlikely site of naval significance but those with the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum say it’s the only place in the U.S., other than Hawaii, where visitors can tour U.S. Navy ships present at the beginning and end of U.S. involvement in World War II. The museum claimed this distinction when it became home to the U.S. Navy Tugboat Hoga one year ago.

Family members say former Arkansas governor and U.S. Sen. David Pryor is recovering in a hospital after suffering a stroke.

The family issued a statement Tuesday saying the 82-year-old Pryor suffered a stroke Monday and underwent surgery "that appears to have been successful."

The Democrat was Arkansas' governor from 1975 to 1979, and then served nearly 20 years in the U.S. Senate. He now serves on the board of trustees for the University of Arkansas.

baxtercountyhistory.org

The oldest public building in Arkansas will soon have a new owner.

The Baxter County Quorum Court voted this week to transfer ownership of the Jacob Wolf House in Norfork to the Department of Arkansas Heritage. The Wolf House, which was built as a courthouse in 1829, overlooks the intersection of the White and North Fork rivers.

The wooden structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Command And Control
PBS

Screenings are planned around the state this coming weekend for the new documentary thriller Command & Control. It looks at the September 1980 accident at a Titan II Missile silo involving a nuclear weapon in the north Arkansas town of Damascus.

A worker doing routine maintenance on the missile dropped a socket from a wrench which fell, puncturing the rocket's fuel tank, causing it to leak. The film’s director, Robert Kenner, says the military was unprepared for the accident or how to respond, with those involved doing the best they could in the situation.

Rock Island Choctaw Station
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Former employees of the Rock Island Railroad joined officials from the Clinton Foundation and Clinton School of Public Service on Monday, August 29, to unveil a vintage sign attached to the brick facade of what was the railroad’s longtime Little Rock passenger station. Today the two organizations, aligned with Bill Clinton’s neighboring presidential library, have offices in the restored building.

Secretary interior Sally jewell transportation secretary Anthony Foxx National Park Service Ranger Jodi Morris
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Two members of President Obama’s cabinet visited Little Rock Tuesday, getting a firsthand look at the historic Central High School. It was part of a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas

The city of Hot Springs is urging residents to avoid the demolition site of the Majestic Hotel complex because of "extremely dangerous conditions."

Assistant City Manager Lance Spicer says the degraded structure and hazardous substances makes the site dangerous to the public. He says anyone who enters the building without protective gear could face health complications.

Crews have removed asbestos and other hazardous materials as they demolish the hotel complex, which was heavily damaged in a 2014 fire.

Bill Clinton Hope Home House
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The home in Hope where former President Bill Clinton spent the first four years of his life is set to reopen following a Christmas Day fire.

National Parks Service officials told reporters that volunteers and employees are unpacking boxes in an effort to have the home ready for visitors on Saturday.

The Christmas Day fire that was called arson damaged the exterior and some of the interior of the home and graffiti was found on a sidewalk and on a door of the home. Authorities did not immediately return phone calls Thursday for comment on whether any arrests had been made.

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