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

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

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.

Little Rock 1957: National

Jun 16, 2017

The events surrounding the 1957 desegregation of Central High School made an impact at a number of levels. At a national level, President Eisenhower’s response to the Brown decision has been viewed as one of the major blights on his otherwise popular presidency. Eisenhower was reluctant to voice support for Brown in public and he was disparaging of the Supreme Court’s decision in private. It was with great hesitancy that he sent federal troops into Little Rock, and only then when Gov.

Little Rock 1957: Regional

Jun 16, 2017

The events surrounding the 1957 desegregation of Central High School made an impact at a number of levels. At a regional level, the enduring lessons of Little Rock was the futility of directly defying federal court orders, the folly of closing public schools, and the social and economic costs of racial turmoil. Few other governors tried to emulate Gov. Faubus’s actions in obstructing the course of justice and few other business communities wanted to risk the cost of racial conflict.

Charles Mingus and Central High

May 1, 2017

In September 1957, the events surrounding the desegregation of Central High School became a focal point for national and international outrage at Little Rock’s treatment of black schoolchildren. Jazz musician Charles Mingus composed a song called “Fables of Faubus,” which lambasted the Arkansas governor, labeling him, among other things, a “Nazi Fascist supremist.” Columbia Records felt the lyrics too controversial and would only release the track as an instrumental on Mingus’s 1959 album Mingus Ah Um.

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