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.

Fifteenth Amendment

Jan 29, 2015

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.

The Bracero Program in Arkansas

Nov 21, 2014

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.

Agricultural Extension Service and Race

Nov 21, 2014

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.

Slavery in Arkansas

Nov 21, 2014

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.

UALR Desegregation: 50 Years After

Jul 16, 2014

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.

UALR Desegregation: 50 Years After

Jul 16, 2014

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.

UALR Desegregation: 50 Years After

Jul 16, 2014

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.

Voting Rights In Arkansas Since The 1970s

Feb 9, 2012

By 1972, Arkansas had ninety-nine African American elected officials, the second highest number of any southern state.

Throughout the state African Americans won elective offices as state legislators, aldermen, mayors, justices of the peace, school board members, city councilors, city recorders and city clerks.

By 1976, some estimates put Arkansas’ voting age registered African Americans at 94 percent, the highest of any state in the South. But African American voting strength had peaked. The percentage of the state’s African American population has declined.

Voting Rights In Arkansas: The 1960s

Feb 8, 2012

The 1960s witnessed a revolution in voting rights in Arkansas. In 1964, Amendment Twenty-Four to the U.S. Constitution outlawed the use of the poll tax in federal elections.

In 1965, Arkansas abolished the poll tax as a requirement for voting and introduced a permanent personal voter registration system. This required a free, one-off registration to vote that in most cases lasted a lifetime. Qualifying to vote became much easier and the number of African American and white electors rose rapidly.