Reconstruction and Racial Equality

Mar 4, 2018

One hundred and fifty years ago this month, Arkansas ratified its fourth constitution, beginning an era of Reconstruction following the Civil War. Although Arkansas appears to have developed an historical amnesia about Reconstruction, jumping as swiftly as it has from sesquicentennial commemorations of the Civil War to the centennial of World War I, Reconstruction was arguably more important than both of those events. One of the key achievements of Reconstruction was an experiment with racial equality. Black delegates to the convention helped enshrine the idea of black voting rights and black office holding and blocked attempts to prohibit interracial marriages. Subsequently, the Arkansas General Assembly enacted civil rights statues and antidiscrimination policies. In 1874, Arkansas abandoned Reconstruction and adopted its fifth constitution, the one that remains in effect today.