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 of History and director of UALR's Institute on Race and Ethnicity.

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.