Arkansas History

Arkansas-Born Civil Rights Activist Ozell Sutton Dies At 90

Dec 21, 2015

Arkansas-born civil rights leader Ozell Sutton passed away in Atlanta on Saturday at the age of 90.

His accomplishments in Arkansas include helping to desegregate downtown Little Rock and serving as an advisor to former Governor Winthrop Rockefeller.

Saline Old River Bridge
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A $500,000 grant will allow work to begin restoring the second-oldest bridge still standing in Arkansas, which crosses the Saline River in Benton. It's hoped it will eventually be part of an extensive cycling and pedestrian trail between Little Rock and Hot Springs.

David Monteith / KUAR

Arkansas’ three living survivors of the bombing of Pearl Harbor were honored at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. The ceremony also served to welcome the newest addition to the museum, the ex-US Navy tugboat Hoga.

“The survivors from Arkansas who were in Pearl Harbor will be cutting the ribbon to allow access to the general public to the main deck of the Hoga today,” said Allison Hibblong, the museum's Director of Operations.

Milton Pitts Crenchaw
Butler Center For Arkansas Studios

A memorial service is set for Tuesday at the Arkansas state Capitol for former Tuskeegee Airman Milton Crenchaw. He died November 17th at the age of 96.

A native of Little Rock, Crenchaw was among the last surviving instructors of the group, which included the first African-Americans to fly combat missions in World War II.

The service begins at 1:30 p.m. in the first floor Rotunda and will include the unveiling of a portrait by Crenchaw’s family members.

Hoga
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

The Hoga, a World War II tugboat, became the newest addition to the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum Monday, two weeks before the 74th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Ship horns greeted the arrival of the boat, officially classified a Navy yard tug. “That is our honorary submarine welcoming our lovely tugboat,” said Allison Hibblong, the museum’s director of operations.

Milton Pitts Crenchaw
Butler Center For Arkansas Studios

Milton Pitts Crenchaw, a flight instructor who trained many of the U.S. military's Tuskegee Airmen, has died in Georgia. He was 96.

Crenchaw's daughter, Dolores Singleton, said he died Tuesday at Piedmont Henry Hospital near Atlanta after battling cardiovascular disease and pneumonia.

Singleton said her father, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, was among the last surviving instructors of the Tuskegee Airmen. They were the first African-Americans to fly combat airplanes in World War II.

A Confederate flag merged with the flag of the League of the South flag.
LOS

Tens of thousands of Southerners rallied this year in defense of an identity they believe is under assault: a veneration of a Confederate heritage. It’s difficult to parcel through just who comprises this movement but some say extremists within it are finding a voice.

A committee has chosen a new mascot for a Fort Smith high school after the school board voted to phase out the Rebels mascot.

KHBS-TV reports the committee voted for the Mavericks as the new Southside High School mascot. The moniker received 25 votes, while Patriots received three votes.

The committee met Monday to consider the top names picked by students. The Mavericks and Spartans were the top two vote-getters among students.

First Ladies (left to right) Susan Hutchinson, Ginger Beebe, Janet Huckabee, Betty Tucker, Gay White, and Barbara Pryor.
www.oldstatehouse.com

Six of Arkansas’s First Ladies hosted supporters of the Old State House Museum’s Inaugural Gown exhibit Tuesday on the lawn of the Governor’s Mansion. KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman compiled this audio post-card of the first ladies and their gowns. 

Funds are being raised to restore gowns dating back to 1889 and to expand the First Ladies exhibit beyond the garments at the Old State House.

Anne Frank Tree
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Former President Bill Clinton will be back in Arkansas to speak Friday at the opening of a permanent installation at his presidential library which invokes the spirit of a young Jewish girl who hid with her family from the Nazis during World War II.

A young sapling called the Anne Frank Tree will be unveiled. It comes from an original white horse chestnut tree that stood outside the building in Amsterdam that housed her family and which Frank wrote about in her now famous diary.

Arkansas Entertainers Hall Of Fame Honors ‘True Blood’ Author

Sep 8, 2015
Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame
Arkansas.com

Tickets are on sale now for the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The Class of 2015 will be honored September 29 at Noah’s Event Center in Little Rock. The Hall honors individuals with Arkansas connections who have made significant contributions to the entertainment arts. The exhibits commemorating the members are permanently housed on display in the Pine Bluff Convention Center.

This year’s inductees include:

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.

Johnny Cash Boyhood Home Attracts Thousands From Around The World

Aug 17, 2015
Johnny Cash House Dyess, Arkansas
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

It has been one year since the official opening of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home and the Dyess Colony. Executive Director of Arkansas State University’s Heritage Sites program Dr. Ruth Hawkins says this past year has been very busy.

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.

Jacob Trieber
Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture

The U.S. Senate has approved legislation co-sponsored by Republican Arkansas Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton to name the federal building in Helena-West Helena after federal Judge Jacob Trieber.

Trieber was appointed by President William McKinley and served from 1900 to 1927 as the federal judge for the U.S. Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. He was the first Jewish federal judge and also served on the Helena City Council and as Phillips County treasurer.

Dustin McDaniel
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The city of Osceola has retained former Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel to look into the actions of Mississippi County over the city possibly losing its historic courthouse.

County Judge Randy Carney and several quorum court members are leading an effort to consolidate the county's two courthouses, located in Blytheville and Osceola, into one larger courthouse in Blytheville. The county has purchased land intended for a new courthouse, and has hired an architectural firm to begin drafting plans.

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?

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

  The Missouri owner of an historic Arkansas hotel has agreed to the Hot Springs City Board's $680,000 offer to purchase the property.

The Board voted Tuesday night to accept Majestic Hotel owner Gary Hassenflu's caveat that the city's offer be amended to reflect the assessed value of the property- $2.03 million - and to label the $1.35 million difference as a donation to the city.

The oldest of the hotel property's three buildings burned down in February 2014. City officials said its priority after the purchase becomes final will be cleaning up the fire debris.

Robinson Auditorium
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

On the one year anniversary of Little Rock’s historic Robinson Auditorium closing to begin a nearly $70 million renovation, a topping out ceremony was held Wednesday. The final steel beam that will be put in place on the expanded structure was signed by local officials, members of the design and construction teams and other guests. Work is scheduled to be completed by November 2016.

Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) on the state Capitol steps.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Governor Asa Hutchinson briefly chimed in on the subject of Confederate iconography in the hours preceding the governor of South Carolina’s call on Monday for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from its statehouse grounds.

Hutchinson said the flag does not have a place in contemporary politics but did not say it should be removed from South Carolina’s statehouse either.

Robinson Auditorium Center Music Hall
City of Little Rock

As workers begin to rebuild the interior of Little Rock's Robinson Auditorium, a key goal of the nearly $70 million renovation is to greatly improve its acoustics.

There had long been complaints about how live music sounded in the venue, which is the home of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. There were "dead spots" in the hall where the audience couldn’t properly hear the orchestra or all the instruments. That’s why the facility has been gutted and is being rebuilt inside the existing structure as part of the voter-approved project, funded with a two percent tourism tax.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Work is nearing the halfway point on a nearly $70 million project to renovate Little Rock’s historic Robinson Auditorium.

Nearly everything has now been ripped out, including the stage, balcony, interior walls and floors, leaving little more than the outside shell of the building and its support beams.

The forced relocation of Native Americans is considered by historians to be one of the darkest periods for America. In a new book released this month, NPR Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep digs into the back story of what led to the 1830 Indian Removal Act, which started the process of tribes being moved to undeveloped western parts of the country.

Lee Theater
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas has identified several historical locations in Arkansas that it says are endangered. The alliance announced its findings Thursday in Little Rock.

On the list are:

University of California Irvine Southeast Asian Archive

Fort Chaffee in northwest Arkansas once played an important role at the end United States' official involvement in the Vietnam War after the fall of Saigon to North Vietnamese forces on April 30, 1975. From May until December of that year, Fort Chaffee became the temporary home to more than 50,000 Indochinese who had sought refugee status.

The resettlement process was known by the U.S. Military as “Operation New Life.” It was brought about when Congress enacted the Indochina Migration and Assistance Act of 1975

Port Authority Board of Directors Chairman Christopher Mathews.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Little Rock Port Authority decided Wednesday it will formally weigh-in on the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma’s attempt to turn 160 acres near the Arkansas River into trust land. That status would exempt it from local and state control and be the first designation of its kind in Arkansas.

Apollo 13 crew
NASA

Two Apollo 13 astronauts and its Mission Control flight director are to speak at the University of Arkansas about the flight, its problems and the eventual safe return to Earth.

Flight Capt. James Lovell, lunar module pilot Fred Haise and flight director Gene Krantz are to speak April 23 in Bud Walton Arena as part of the student Distinguished Lecture Series. The third astronaut on the flight - Jack Swigert - died in 1982.

Apollo 13 launched April 11, 1970, intended to be the third NASA mission to land men on the moon. But an oxygen tank exploded, crippling the spacecraft.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

It has been 30 years since a legendary Little Rock radio station changed formats, marking the end of a key chapter for Arkansas media. This past weekend, many former employees of KAAY-AM 1090 got together to share stories and reflect on changes in the industry.

Little Rock Nine 9
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The National Archives has digitally remastered a film about the Little Rock Nine for the anniversary of its Academy Award win for best short documentary 50 years ago.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that it's the fifth film the archives' Motion Picture Preservation Lab has restored to cinema quality.

The film will be shown at the National Archives later in the spring and is available online.

The archives says the 18-minute film, titled Nine from Little Rock, was never intended for American viewers but was shown in hundreds of cities around the globe.

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