W. Harold Flowers and the Wilkerson Case

Apr 2, 2017

William Harold Flowers, a Pine Bluff attorney, was a trailblazer for African American civil rights in Arkansas. Of the many cases that Flowers fought, the 1946 Wilkerson case had the most profound impact. In the case, two black men stood accused of killing two white men, an act that usually brought with it an automatic death sentence. However, Flowers managed to get their sentences commuted to jail terms. At the trial, Flowers successfully demanded that some black jurors sit in judgment on the case, the first time this had happened in the state since Reconstruction. Flowers was the only black lawyer practicing in the state to represent his clients without the counsel of a white lawyer, thereby contravening Arkansas’s established courtroom etiquette and making his exploits even more remarkable.