The new Arkansas Civil Rights History Audio Tour was launched in November 2015. Produced by the City of Little Rock and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock allows the many places and stories of the City’s Civil Rights history to come to life an interactive tour. This month, during Black History Month, the Culture Vulture looks at some of the stops on this tour which focus on African American history.
In 1958, in this stately antebellum home, seventy-six-year-old Adolphine Fletcher Terry helped to organize the Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC). Always involved in civic activities, she was dismayed that the four high schools in Little Rock remained closed rather than become integrated. Mrs. Terry told Arkansas Gazette editor Harry Ashmore that “It’s clear to me that the men are not going to take the lead in turning this thing around and so the women are going to have to.” She organized the Women’s Emergency Committee (WEC).
When segregationist school board members tried to fire forty-four teachers and administrators who supported integration in the public schools, the WEC worked with a group of businessmen who had organized a Stop This Outrageous Purge (STOP) campaign to elect new school board members who favored integration. High schools were reopened with token integration in August 1959. The WEC operated in secret because of concerns about harassment or worse. In 1998, on the fortieth anniversary of its founding, the names of WEC members were released for the first time. Those names are now etched in the window panes of the house.
Originally built in approximately 1840 by Albert Pike, it was purchased by Lou Krause from the Pike family in 1886. In 1889, she sold it to her brother-in-law, former Little Rock Mayor John Gould Fletcher. He was the father of Adolphine Fletcher Terry, who grew up in the house. Since the 1970s, it has been property of the City of Little Rock for use by the Arkansas Arts Center. This was stipulated in the wills of Mrs. Terry and her sister Mary Fletcher Drennan.
The app, funded by a generous grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council, was a collaboration among UALR’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity, the City of Little Rock, the Mayor’s Tourism Commission, and KUAR, UALR’s public radio station, with assistance from the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.