Last month, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Institute on Race and Ethnicity unveiled the 2015 Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail markers. This year’s theme is “Politics and Law” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The fourteen new markers are installed at Scott and Markham Streets near the Statehouse Convention Center.
Established in the summer of 2011, the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail honors those who made significant contributions to civil rights in Arkansas. The trail raises public awareness of the long and rich legacy of Arkansas’s civil rights history.
A 12-inch bronze marker is placed in the sidewalk for each honoree. The trail begins in front of the Old State House Convention Center on Markham Street and will eventually extend to the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park and other points throughout the downtown corridor.
This year’s 14 honorees are:
- Annie Mae Bankhead, who was a community activist in Pulaski County’s black College Station neighborhood
- Wiley Branton, Sr., who was head of the Southern Regional Council’s Voter Education Project in the 1960s
- Charles Bussey, who was leader of the Veterans Good Government Association and became Little Rock’s first black mayor in 1980
- William Harold Flowers, who laid the foundations for the Arkansas State Conference of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People branches
- Jeffrey Hawkins, who was for decades the unofficial mayor of Little Rock’s black East End neighborhood
- Irma Hunter Brown, who was the first black woman elected to the Arkansas General Assembly
- Scipio Africanus Jones, a leading black Republican who defended 12 prisoners for their role in the 1919 Elaine Race Riot
- Mahlon Martin, who was the first black city manager of Little Rock
- I.S. McClinton, who was head of the Arkansas Democratic Voters Association, a forerunner of today’s Black Democratic Caucus
- Richard L. Mays and Henry Wilkins III, who were among the first blacks elected to the Arkansas General Assembly in the 20th century in 1972
- Olly Neal, who was the first black district prosecuting attorney in Arkansas and later served on the Arkansas Court of Appeals
- Lottie Shackelford, who was the first black woman mayor of Little Rock
- John Walker, who for more than five decades has been involved in civil rights activism in the courts, most notably in school desegregation cases
Dr. John Kirk is the director of the Institute. At the November ceremony, he spoke along with UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson. At a reception following the ceremony, Senator Joyce Elliott gave a toast in honor of the 14 and several of the honorees or their descendants spoke.