Arkansas History

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.

Robert Miller of Arkansas's chapter of the League of the South holds a Confederate battle flag and the LOS flag on Capitol grounds.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Former Ku Klux Klan leader and former Louisiana Republican state representative David Duke says the climate is right for him to seek public office once again. Duke, referencing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, announced on Friday he's running in the state's U.S. Senate race.

Historic Arkansas Museum / Historic Arkansas Museum

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola will proclaim Tuesday “Historic Arkansas Museum Day” at a celebration commemorating the museum’s 75th anniversary.

The Little Rock museum, once known as Arkansas Territorial Restoration, officially opened in July 1941. Chris Hancock, spokesman for the museum, said having a day declared as Historic Arkansas Museum Day honors both the museum and the city.

Little Rock Nine former President Bill Clinton prime minister Tony Blair Bill Clinton
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair joined former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in Little Rock Thursday, sharing concerns about growing divisiveness in the world. They spoke along with members of the Little Rock Nine to graduates of a leadership program before severe weather cut the event short.

The event was held in the auditorium at Central High School, with the former world leaders lamenting changes that have led to a hyper-partisan culture.

Bobby Ampezzan/KUAR

Former governor and senator David Pryor again helped the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies pack the Ron Robinson Theater June 8, and again opened by talking about his contemporary Dale Bumpers.  

Bobby Ampezzan/KUAR

  

  Housed deep inside Education Building Two on the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences campus is the state’s only dedicated repository for medical history, devices and photographs, and physician’s personal papers. 

This is the vaguely named Historical Research Center, and its archives and artifacts are up five stories, just beyond a wide wall of glass accessed by a thin skywalk open on either side to a leg-shattering fall. The skywalk starts at the doors of a single passenger elevator not wide enough for one fat wrestler delivering two wedding cakes.

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
Arkansas Times

On Saturday, June 18th the corner of Broadway and 9th streets in downtown Little Rock will be transformed into a block party in honor of Juneteenth, the nation’s oldest holiday commemorating the end of slavery. This year, the festivities hosted by the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock will be expanded, in large part because of the Kinsey Collection of African American art and history that is currently on display.

Majestic Hotel
Save Her Majesty: Restore The Majestic Hotel Facebook Page

A committee of the Hot Springs board of directors has settled on who should demolish the fire-damaged Majestic Hotel.

While some residents were hopeful a portion of the 90-year-old building could be saved after a February 2014 fire, City Manager David Frasher said that when he visited the hotel recently, "it was raining on every floor."

Looking down the left field line of Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

As can be expected with a baseball team in existence since 1901, the Arkansas Travelers hold a fair share of firsts and claims to fan loyalty. On Wednesday, Travelers’ marketing director Lance Restum walked those at those at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies’ Legacies and Lunch talk through the history of one of the oldest still-running minor league baseball teams.

He said the Travelers have an outsized presence compared to other minor league teams because it’s been a constant in a state where other professional sports have come and gone.

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

The head of the Fort Smith School Board says the decision of two members to abandon an effort to bring back the Rebel mascot means the district can move on from the divisive issue and she can too. Board President Dr. Deanie Mehl told Talk Business & Politics she'll step down at the end of 2017 after 12 years on the school board.

The U.S. Senate has approved a bill to name the post office in Perryville after an Arkansas native who was killed while he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

The post office would be named the Harold George Bennett Post Office under the proposal by U.S. Rep. French Hill and Sen. John Boozman.

The proposal now goes to the president for his signature.

Bennett was a native of the Thornburg community about 7 miles south of Perryville and was the first American prisoner of war killed in Vietnam when he was executed on June 25, 1965, after three escape attempts.

The Newport City Council has decided to not apply for a grant that could have turned the Blue Bridge into a pedestrian crossing.

Newport Mayor David Stewart tells Jonesboro television station KAIT that the city council decided Monday to not apply for the grant that could have transformed the historic bridge into a walking and recreational trail. The city applied for the same grant last year but didn't receive it.

Work is now underway to replace the 86-year-old Blue Bridge. The $31 million project is expected to be complete next year.

rohwer
astate.edu

A $2.8 million grant from the National Park Service will support projects planned at camps where Japanese-Americans were held during World War II.

The projects include the Rohwer and the Jerome relocation centers in southeastern Arkansas.

Goodwin Field Terminal
Preserve Arkansas

Preserve Arkansas has released its annual list of the most endangered places in Arkansas. Released Thursday, the list identifies seven locations that the group says faces threats that include deterioration, neglect, insufficient funds and inappropriate development.

The seven are:

Goodwin Field airport terminal in El Dorado

The National Guard Armory in Clarksville 

Union Chapel Community Center in Springfield

Sweet Home Chapel near Mount Ida

The Slack/Comstock/Marshall House in Uniontown

The Warren & Ouachita Depot in Warren 

The online Encyclopedia of Arkansas celebrated its 10th anniversary this weekend. The project was launched in 2006 by the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and the Central Arkansas Library System. It currently features about 4,400 entries and almost 6,000 pieces of media.

At a reception Friday at the Butler Center, the crowd resembled the encyclopedia itself: a varied range of vital forces contained in one spot. 

Former Congressman Ray Thornton Of Arkansas Dies

Apr 13, 2016
Former U.S. Congressman Ray Thornton.
Encyclopedia of Arkansas

Former U.S. congressman, Arkansas Supreme Court justice and university president Raymond "Ray" Thornton died early Wednesday, his former chief of staff says. He was 87. Thornton was in hospice care for lung cancer in Pulaski County.

The Conway native graduated from Yale University in 1950 and a few years later served in the Navy during the Korean War. Thornton then earned a law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law.

World War I Memorial Joseph Weishaar
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A native Arkansan is leading the design of a World War I Memorial in Washington, DC. On Thursday, 25-year-old Joseph Weishaar was honored for his role in the project during a ceremony at the Arkansas State Capitol that formally established a centennial commemoration committee for the state.

Weishaar is a recent graduate of the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture who today lives in Chicago, but is preparing to move to Washington to oversee the project.

Pages