Arkansas Moments

Arkansas Moments is a special feature of UA Little Rock's Public Radio that explores the history of the civil rights movement in Arkansas with Dr. John A. Kirk, George W. Donaghey Distinguished Professor of History and director of UA Little Rock's Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity.

jakirk@ualr.edu

Ivie Moore and Black Football Protests

Nov 15, 2017

Pine Bluff’s Ivie Moore was one of the University of Wyoming’s “Black 14” players dismissed from the squad for protesting racial discrimination in October 1969. The Cowboys were on a winning streak when one of their black players, Mel Hamilton, learned of a protest by the university’s Black Student Alliance ahead of the Brigham Young University game. The year before, black players had complained about racial epithets used by BYU players. They resolved to wear black armbands during the game in support of student demonstrations.

Maj. Gen Edwin Walker and Lee Harvey Oswald

Nov 15, 2017

Maj. Gen. Edwin Walker had a storied career. In 1957, he was in charge of federal troops sent by President Eisenhower to desegregate Central High School. But Walker carried out Eisenhower’s orders at Central only under duress. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy officially admonished Walker for trying to indoctrinate his troops with right-wing literature. Walker resigned in protest, resurfacing the following year as one of the leaders of an armed mob trying to prevent black student James Meredith from entering the University of Mississippi.

Act 10 and Academic Freedom

Nov 15, 2017

One of the most controversial acts passed by the 1958 Arkansas General Assembly was Act 10, which required state employees to list their political affiliations. The pro-segregation legislation went hand-in-hand with its fellow traveler of fervent anti-communism during the McCarthy era. It targeted purported subversives and enemies of the state, particularly members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which Act 115 barred from state employment.

Sputnik 1

Oct 5, 2017

What finally removed the Little Rock School Crisis from the international and national headlines in October 1957 was the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik 1, the first artificial earth satellite, which propelled the Soviets ahead in the Cold War space race. Radio Moscow enthusiastically charted Sputnik 1’s orbits around the earth, particularly noting its flights over Little Rock, Arkansas.

Grace Lorch

Oct 5, 2017

The 1957 school crisis produced a number of fascinating stories, many of them sidelined from the main narrative of events. Take, for example, Grace Lorch, the white woman who on September 4, 1957, defended Elizabeth Eckford from the mob at Central High School and escorted her onto a city bus. Lorch was married to Lee Lorch, a mathematics professor at Philander Smith College. The Lorches had previously been active in a number of civil rights causes.

Maj. Gen. Edwin Walker and James Meredith

Oct 5, 2017

The 1957 school crisis produced a number of fascinating stories, many of them sidelined from the main narrative of events. Take, for example, Maj. Gen. Edwin Walker, the man in charge of federal troops at Central High. Walker carried out Eisenhower’s orders at Central under duress. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy officially admonished Walker for trying to indoctrinate his troops with right-wing literature.

1957 Little Rock Crisis 60th Anniversary #1

Aug 10, 2017

Because of the events of the 1957 Little Rock school crisis, and the historic role the city has in the story of the civil rights movement, it remains, and will always remain, a bellwether for measuring the nation’s progress in education. On the sixtieth anniversary of the school crisis, that report card is far from exemplary. Little Rock’s public schools, like so many others across the South and across the nation, are hurtling back in time into a new age of resegregation.

1957 Little Rock Crisis 60th Anniversary #2

Aug 10, 2017

On the sixtieth anniversary of the 1957 Little Rock school crisis, the city’s schools are closer than ever to returning to a separate and unequal basis along race and class lines. Although the city has promoted itself as having a successful school district because it has managed to keep around a fifth or so of its public school population white, in a city 49 per cent white and 42 per cent black, there is a very real threat that the school district is about to go the way of many others in the United States in becoming even more intensely hyper-segregated.

1957 Little Rock Crisis 60th Anniversary #3

Aug 10, 2017

Little Rock’s commemoration of the 1957 school crisis has its own distinct history. In the decades immediately after, civic leaders looked to ignore events altogether, viewing them as an embarrassment and a detriment to the city’s image and economy. In the 1970s and 1980s, tentative commemorations emerged that focused on pointing out how far desegregation had progressed rather than addressing the events of the past.

Little Rock 1957: International

Jun 16, 2017

The events surrounding the 1957 desegregation of Central High School made an impact at a number of levels. At an international level, it proved a public relations disaster for a country engaged in an effort to win hearts and minds—many of them belonging to people of color—in the Cold War. A number of historians have written about Little Rock’s global impact.

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