Walter E. Hussman Jr., is the publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and a third-generation newspaperman whose family acquired a chain of newspapers stretching from Tennessee to Missouri.
As publisher of the Arkansas Democrat, in 1991, Hussman purchased the assets of the Gazette and began publishing the Democrat-Gazette. Hussman will speak about the newspaper industry, including the recent decision to transition the Democrat-Gazette to a digital-only format Monday-Saturday.
He is speaking tonight (October 10) at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater. Admission is free, please reserve tickets at http://www.cals.org.
Mr. Hussman’s appearance is the 2019 J.N. Heiskell Program, an annual event held in honor of John Netherland (J. N.) Heiskell who served as editor of the Arkansas Gazette for more than seventy years. Mr. Heiskell was also a trustee of the Little Rock Public Library (forerunner of CALS) from 1910 until his death in 1972 at the age of 100.
Mr. Hussman is not the first person to own the assets of both the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat. The first to have that designation was J. N. Heiskell who owned the Democrat for a couple of years in the late 1900’s/early 1910s.
On Tuesday, September 16, 1958, the first meeting of the Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools took place at the Pike-Fletcher-Terry House in downtown Little Rock. Fifty-eight women were in attendance at the initial meeting.
The group had been envisioned four days earlier, on September 12. At the time, Adolphine Fletcher Terry had invited Vivion Lenon Brewer and Velma Powell to her house to discuss the current school situation. Terry and Brewer were both daughters of former Little Rock mayors. They were frustrated with the stalemate that was taking place with the Little Rock School District, the State, and the Federal Government.
In a conversation about the group with her friend Arkansas Gazette editor Harry Ashmore, Mrs. Terry stated, “The men have failed, it’s time to call out the women.”
The same day the trio met, an immediate concern superseded their general discontent.
On September 12, Governor Faubus had signed several segregationist bills into law. One of them gave him the authority to temporarily close schools in order to keep the from being integrated. After signing the bills, he issued an order closing Little Rock’s four high schools. He set October 2 as the election day for Little Rock voters to ratify or reject the closing.
The closure of the schools and impending election, gave an urgency and an immediate focus for the WEC. The women sprung into action.
The way the election law was written, keeping the schools open would require a majority of all registered voters — not just those voting in the election. There were several other requirements written into the law that made it all but impossible to reject the closure. Nonetheless the WEC went to work. They wrote letters, made phone calls, made personal pleas, raised money, and placed newspaper ads.
Their need for a quick and efficient organization became even more paramount with the Governor moved the election forward to September 27. His public reason was to remove the uncertainty; but privately he was likely concerned that there was organized opposition.
Though the voters approved keeping the high schools closed, the WEC was undaunted. They continued to work throughout the 1958-59 school year in a variety of ways. They backed candidates in the December 1958 school board elections, and succeeded in getting three moderates elected. In May 1959, they were a crucial bloc in the campaign to recall of three segregationist school board members.
Following the reopening of the schools in 1959, the WEC continued to focus on social issues until disbanding in 1963.
The membership of the WEC was kept a secret. No official roll was kept. With a membership which swelled to over 1,300, obviously not all attended meetings at once. There were well organized phone trees which quickly got the word out to the membership. During elections, they would create files on all registered voters with codes for Saints, Sinners and Savable.
In an effort of intimidation (as if anyone could intimidate Adolphine Fletcher Terry), there were efforts to force the WEC to disclose membership lists. The officers and their legal counsel replied that there were no lists in existence, so there was nothing to disclose.
On March 13, 1998, the names of the WEC were made public for the first time when they were published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. This was done in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the year of the founding. Later in the year, the names were etched in glass in the solarium of the Pike-Fletcher-Terry House. (In the 1970s, the house was given by the family to the City of Little Rock for use by the Arkansas Arts Center.)
A ceremony at the house in October 1998 celebrated the 40th anniversary and the names permanently etched there. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton came back to Little Rock to deliver remarks at the ceremony.
Sara Murphy, a member of the WEC wrote a book about the organization which was published in 1997, shortly after her death. Around the same time, Sandra Hubbard produced a documentary called The Giants Wore White Gloves. On the 60th anniversary of the first WEC meeting, a sold out screening of the film was shown at the CALS Ron Robinson Theatre as a presentation of the Clinton School Speaker Series in conjunction with the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.
Pops on the River, presented by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, will take place Thursday., July 4, in downtown Little Rock.
In its 36th year, this free community event is the largest Fourth of July event in the state as more than 30,000 are drawn downtown to the events surrounding Pops on the River.
Pops has continued to grow these last three decades in no small part because it has held true to its roots and continues to focus on a family-friendly environment complete with fantastic food, fireworks, and music by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. It is a heralded community event that many remember for years to come.
Pops on the River will begin at 3pm in the River Market area of downtown Little Rock with free activities for kids in the Kid’s Pavilion, a marketplace for shopping, food trucks and entertainment for all ages.
Entertainment inside the First Security Amphitheater will include live music by Nicky Parrish, Rodney Block and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Fireworks will begin at approximately 9:30 p.m. and are shot off the Main Street Bridge.
The event is free to the public and a portion of proceeds benefit a local charity. This year’s benefiting charity is Rock City Rescue. Pops on the River is also sponsored in part by the Orion Federal Credit Union, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Little Rock Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, 106.7 The Ride and Waste Management.
The Muses’ Broadway Cabaret in concert is presented tonight at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater.
The performance starts at 7pm.
This “best of” Broadway concert is an impressive display of professional musical artistry, spectacular dancing, and extraordinary showmanship! The Muses Professional Performance Troupe of highly skilled, nationally touring professional vocalists, instrumentalists, and resident artists, will present beloved tunes from popular Broadway shows, including: “Cabaret”, “Kiss Me Kate”, “Hello, Dolly!” “My Fair Lady’, “South Pacific”, “Company”, “Wicked”, and “Rent”.
Driven by a live big band sound, these musical theater classics, are performed in colorful and engaging combinations of solos, duets, and ensembles, along with lovely and energetic dance performances sprinkled throughout the show.
Professionally executed, high quality artistic programming, are the distinguishing features of all Muses’ productions. Professional and undeniably first rate, the Muses Broadway Cabaret, Seasons of Love concert, embodies the charm, passion, wit, and powerful storytelling found on the Broadway stage, right here in central Arkansas! Don’t miss this highly entertaining summer highlight!
Sponsored by Arkansas Arts Center, First Security Bank, UA Little Rock Downtown, Central Arkansas Library System, Merritt Dyke & Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
The 2019 Pulitzer Prizes are announced later today. Over the years, there have been several Pulitzer winners with connections to Little Rock.
In 1939, Little Rock native John Gould Fletcher, a scion of a politically prominent family, won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his work Selected Poems. He appears to be the first Pulitzer Prize winner with Little Rock connections.
The 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Drama went to South Pacific. With a leading lady who is from Little Rock, this Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Joshua Logan musical explores race against the backdrop of World War II. It is based on James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, which won the 1948 Pulitzer for Fiction. (Because it was a collection of interrelated short stories, the category was changed from Novel to Fiction from that year onward.) But in the Michener book, Forbush is not from Little Rock.
The Arkansas Gazette made Pulitzer history in 1958 by winning both the Public Service and Editorial prizes in the same year. This was the first time that one organization had received both awards in the same year. These were for the coverage of and response to the 1957 integration of Central High School by the Little Rock Nine. J. N. Heiskell was the paper’s owner and editor, while Harry Ashmore led the editorial page. Relman Morin of the Associated Press received the Pulitzer for National Reporting for his coverage of the events at Central. Apparently Will Counts of the Arkansas Democrat was the jurors’ choice to receive the Pulitzer for Photography. But the Board opted to give the prize to another photographer. Some speculate that the Pulitzer Board did not want to give four prizes in the same year for the same story.
Current Little Rock resident Paul Greenberg won the 1969 Pulitzer for Editorial Writing. at the time, he worked for the Pine Bluff Commercial. In 1986, he was a finalist in the same category. Greenberg moved to Little Rock to join the staff of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 1992. While no longer the Editorial Page Editor, Greenberg continues to write columns for the newspaper.
Former Little Rock resident Richard Ford received the 1996 Pulitzer for Fiction for his novel Independence Day. As a young boy of eight, and for several years after, Ford spent much time at Little Rock’s Marion Hotel with his grandparents. In making the presentation, the Pulitzer Board noted it was, “A visionary account of American life, Independence Day reveals a man and country with unflinching comedy and the specter of hope and even permanence…”
The Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2001 went to David Auburn. A 1987 graduate of Hall High School, Auburn was recognized for his play Proof. The Pulitzer Board described Proof thus: “This poignant drama about love and reconciliation unfolds on the back porch of a house settled in a suburban university town, that is, like David Auburn’s writing, both simple and elegant.” Auburn also served as a 2014 juror for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. While a student in Little Rock, Auburn participated in theatre at the Arkansas Arts Center.
Join musicians, artists, and friends of Arkansas Life magazine this Tuesday night in an effort to save this stellar publication! Great music courtesy of Joshua Asante, Phillip Huddleston, and Hot Springs’ own Ghost Bones will kick off at 7pm.
Your $10 donation at the door will go towards future subscriptions. Many fans greatly admire and appreciate the hard working and thoughtful folks who make this magazine so special. This is a chance for to come together to show them support!
Arkansas Life was founded in 2008 and is published 12 times yearly by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The increasing budgetary difficulties of print media have put the magazine under very serious threat of shutting down unless a significant amount of readers become paid subscribers by January 15th.
A $20 annual subscription can be purchased here: https://subscribe.wehco.com/adg/arklife/
Arkansas Life digs deep into The Natural State, unearthing surprising stories and exposing readers—both natives and novices alike—to new facets of a familiar place.