Arkansas Moments

Arkansas Moments is a special feature of UALR Public Radio that explores the history of the civil rights movement in Arkansas with Dr. John A. Kirk, George W. Donaghey Distinguished Professor and Chair of the UALR History Department. 

jakirk@ualr.edu

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Arkansas Moments
3:48 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

First State Takeover of Little Rock School

In 1954, when the United States Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision was handed down, Orval Faubus was running against incumbent Francis Cherry for governor. Inevitably, the question of school desegregation arose on the campaign trail. Faubus insisted that school policy was best handled at a “local level” with local communities empowered to determine their own course of action.

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Arkansas Moments
3:46 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Voting Rights since 1965

After the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the first four African American legislators were elected to the Arkansas General Assembly in eighty years. In 1982 redistricting, one further house seat was added, filled by Irma Hunter Brown, the first African American woman in the General Assembly. A lawsuit in 1988 added another house seat filled by Ben McGee from Crittenden County, the first African American elected outside of Pulaski and Jefferson counties in the twentieth century.

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Arkansas Moments
3:38 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Disfranchisement

The election law of 1891 began African American disfranchisement in Arkansas. Passed with the intention of combating electoral fraud, its measures proved disastrous for black political participation. The law centralized the electoral system under the control of the white Democratic Party. A secret ballot and a standardized ballot paper essentially introduced a literacy test. At the time, over a quarter of the population in the state could not read or write, including some 93,000 whites and 116,000 blacks.

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Arkansas Moments
3:34 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Fifteenth Amendment

More African Americans were elected to the Arkansas General Assembly in the nineteenth century than have been elected in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. One hundred and forty-five years ago the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing equal votes regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Between 1868 and 1893, a total of eighty-four Africans Americans were elected: six in the senate, seventy-four in the house, and four in both chambers.

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Arkansas Moments
11:31 am
Fri November 21, 2014

The Bracero Program in Arkansas

In the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, the Bracero Program brought thousands of Mexican workers into the Arkansas delta to address labor shortages there. Though white landowners welcomed this, Juan Crown and Jim Crow existed side-by-side as Mexican workers suffered from and fought against the prevalent racial and ethnic discrimination in the region. Braceroes challenged discrimination and the economic exploitation that underpinned it.

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Arkansas Moments
11:28 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Agricultural Extension Service and Race

Employed by the Agricultural Extension Service, home demonstration agents played a vital role in providing support to rural black families, despite the segregated and underfunded climate they operated in. Husband and wife team Harvey C. Ray and Mary McCrary Ray filled the positions as the first black U.S. Extension Service agent and first black home demonstration agent in Arkansas. Home demonstration agents were an early federally funded outlet for African American support and betterment in often-impoverished black families and communities.

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Arkansas Moments
11:11 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Slavery in Arkansas

Even in the worst of conditions and in the worst of times in the Arkansas delta, African American slaves developed “cultures of resistance” to try to assert some control over their surroundings and the conditions that they faced. Slaves collaborated in slowdowns at work, took breaks when overseers were not looking, practiced “truancy” (that is, took brief runaway excursions), and usurped the authority of white mistresses in running households. Some took more drastic measures, such as running away to freedom across large distances or, more directly, by killing their masters.

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Arkansas Moments
2:47 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

UALR Desegregation: 50 Years After

This fall, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock commemorates its fiftieth anniversary of integration. In August 1964, Little Rock University admitted its first African American students under threat of losing federal funds if it did not desegregate following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Today, fifty years after it desegregated, UALR has the highest enrollment of African American students of any higher education institution in the state. The topic of UALR’s integration will be explored in a class being offered in the fall by Rhetoric and Writing professor Dr.

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Arkansas Moments
2:39 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

UALR Desegregation: 50 Years After

On August 10, 1964, the Little Rock University Board of Trustees voted to change article two of its constitution that read: “The purpose and objects of this corporation shall be to own, control, conduct and/or operate (but not for profit) a college, school, or schools, and to promote generally the higher education of white persons.” The term “white persons” was dropped following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 earlier that summer, which threatened to withhold federal funds from entities that did not comply with new anti-discriminatory laws.

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Arkansas Moments
2:37 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

UALR Desegregation: 50 Years After

In August 1964, Little Rock University (LRU, now UALR) admitted its first African American students under threat of losing federal funds if it did not desegregate following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In his annual report, President Carey V. Stabler noted: “Apparently, we shall have about a 13 per cent increase in enrollment, most of which is in the new freshmen group which increased nearly 25 per cent…Among the students are seven Negroes, three full-time and four part-time.

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