Little Rock Look Back: Home of Carlotta Walls bombed in 1960

On February 9, 1960, a bomb was detonated at the home of Carlotta Walls. One of the Little Rock Nine as a sophomore, she was now in her senior year at Little Rock Central High.  This followed the September 1959 Labor Day bombings in Little Rock.

The bomb went off at approximately 11:00pm.  The blast could be heard for two miles from the house (located at 1500 S Valentine St.). Carlotta’s mother, Juanita, and sisters were at home with her, though her father, Cartelyou, was at his father’s house at 3910 West 18th Street.  Thankfully all members of the family were not physically harmed.  Two sticks of dynamite were used for the bomb.  The blast removed brick and broke three windows in the Walls house.

According to media accounts, this bombing was the first in the United States directed at a student since the 1954 US Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.  As such, it made national headlines.  Carlotta was not deterred.  She had no thought of dropping out of school.

Reaction in the community including the Women’s Emergency Committee deploring the action and the NAACP being outraged.  The Little Rock School District only stated that it was a matter for the police.  The Chamber of Commerce was concerned about the impact it would have on attracting industry.

The FBI came in to investigate in addition to the Little Rock Police Department.  Two African Americans, Herbert Monts and Maceo Binns, Jr., were convicted for causing the bombing. Binns’ conviction was thrown out because it was proven he was coerced into a confession.  Monts served twenty (20) months of a five year sentence.  The supposed motive was to build sympathy for the African American community.  Carlotta Walls LaNier has stated that she did not believe the men bombed her house.

Monts petitioned the Arkansas Parole Board for a pardon. In October 2018, Governor Asa Hutchinson included Monts on a list of persons to be pardoned.

Advertisements

Arkansas Heritage Month – Dr. Dean Kumpuris

Arts Community Development recipient Dean Kumpuris

Arts Community Development recipient Dean Kumpuris

This week as part of Arkansas Heritage Month’s focus on the arts, we will be looking at seven recipients of the Governor’s Arts Awards from Little Rock.

2016 honoree in Arts Community Development, Dr. Dean Kumpuris has spent the last three decades working to improve the cultural and civic life of Little Rock. In particular, he has focused much of his work on the revitalization of downtown, the development of the River Market, and expansion of Riverfront Park.

Through his vision and efforts to place public art downtown, in less than 10 years, nearly 100 sculptures have been installed in the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden, as well as in parks along the Arkansas River and throughout Little Rock. He created the annual fundraiser, Sculpture at the River Market Show and Sale, which attracts thousands of visitors to Little Rock each year and features hundreds of sculptures from internationally recognized artists.

He is a gastroenterologist and has served on the Little Rock City Board of Directors since 1995.

Governor’s Arts Awards presented today

Arts Community Development recipient Dean Kumpuris

Arts Community Development recipient Dean Kumpuris

The Arkansas Arts Council will present the 2016 Governor’s Arts Awards today at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion. Sponsored annually by the Arkansas Arts Council, the Governor’s Arts Awards recognize individuals and corporations for outstanding contributions to the arts in Arkansas.

The recipients were nominated by the public and then selected by an independent panel of arts professionals from around the state. Each recipient will be honored at a ceremony in the spring and will receive an original work of art created by Arkansas artist Kelly Edwards.

Lifetime Achievement Award
Suzanne Vining Kunkel, Little Rock

Arts Community Development Award
Dr. Dean Kumpuris, Little Rock

Arts in Education Award
The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, Pine Bluff

Corporate Sponsorship of the Arts Award
Deltic Timber, El Dorado

Folklife Award
Sonny Burgess and The Legendary Pacers, Newport

Individual Artist Award
RB McGrath, Jacksonville

Patron Award
Dr. Thomas A. Bruce, Little Rock

Judges Recognition Award
Theresa Timmons-Shamberger, Maumelle

The selection committee members included Mildred Franco, Arkansas Arts Council board, Pine Bluff; Ed Clifford, The Jones Center, Bentonville; Aj Smith, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Chris James, The Roots Art Connection, North Little Rock; and Cathy Cunningham, Southern Bancorp Community Partners, Helena.

Clinton Center admission is FREE today for President Clinton’s Birthday

Clinton DinosPresident Clinton’s birthday is next week.  But the Clinton Presidential Center is offering visitors the present.  Today from 9am to 5pm, the Clinton Presidential Center admission fees will be waived.  Also offered for free will be the audiotour featuring President Clinton’s narration.

In addition to the chance to visit the Dinosaurs exhibit and the permanent exhibits, the Clinton Center is hosting a special event today from 9am to 2pm.

Kick off the new school year at our Annual Head of the Class Bash. The first 1,500 students will receive FREE backpacks and back-to-school supplies! The Clinton Center will also provide immunizations, haircuts, fun activities, ACT/SAT/PSAT prep coupons, and much more. New this year, there will be “Hour of Code” computer science tutorials. The Head of the Class Bash is sponsored by the Clinton Foundation in partnership with the 3M Company, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas STEM Coalition, AT&T Arkansas, New Tyler Barber College, and the Office of Governor Asa Hutchinson.

WHEN:
Saturday, August 15, 2015
Head of the Class Bash: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Free Admission Day: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Governor’s Arts Awards presented today

Today at noon at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, Governor Asa Hutchinson will join with the Arkansas Arts Council to present the annual Governor’s Arts Awards.

Lifetime Achievement Award-Jana L. Beard, Little Rock

Arts Community Development Award-Remica Gray, Texarkana

Arts in Education Award-DeltaARTS, West Memphis

Corporate Sponsorship of the Arts Award-Entergy Arkansas, Inc.

Folklife Award-Margaret Jones Bolsterli, Fayetteville

Individual Artist Award-Kevin Kresse, Little Rock

Patron Award-Curt & Chucki Bradbury, Little Rock

Judges Recognition Award-Kaki Hockersmith, Little Rock

 

The annual Governor’s Arts Awards were established in 1991 to recognize Arkansas artists, arts patrons and corporations for their outstanding contributions to the arts community. The recipients are nominated by the public and selected by distinguished panel of arts professionals from around the state.

The Arkansas Arts Council is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

14ish Cultural Highlights of 2014

2014 was a busy year.  Here are 14 cultural highlights. In no particular order. Except maybe once in while.

The Rep's Bob Hupp and Catherine Hughes flank NEA Chair Jane Chu

The Rep’s Bob Hupp and Catherine Hughes flank NEA Chair Jane Chu

Dr. Jane Chu visits Arkansas. Former Arkadelphia resident Dr. Jane Chu was appointed as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. In October, she paid a visit to Little Rock and northwest Arkansas. While in the Rock, she participated in a discussion at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and toured the new Creative Corridor spaces under construction for the Rep, Ballet Arkansas and Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Chu was also the guest of honor at a reception hosted by the Arkansas Arts Council. While here, she had the chance to renew old friendships as well as make new ones.

Carroll Cloar exhibit at Arkansas Arts Center. The Arkansas Arts Center featured the works of Arkansas native Carroll Cloar. Much as the Biblical prophet who is ignored in his homeland, Cloar has long been better recognized outside of his native state.  The Cloar exhibit (which included a painting of future Little Rock mayor J. V. Satterfield playing football, a personal favorite of the LRCV) and the outreach by the AAC staff made great strides towards raising Arkansas’ consciousness about the works by the American treasure.

DSCF0011Robinson Center Music Hall closes for renovation. Opening in February 1940 as the Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium, the City’s prime venue for performances and civic gatherings needed an external and internal facelift at 74. The building closed in July 2014 for a two year renovation which will see the reconfiguration of the performance and audience space in the music hall, the creation of a new special events venue overlooking the Arkansas River, and the restoration of this historic main lobby and front façade to 1940 appearance. During this closure tenants such as Ballet Arkansas, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and Celebrity Attractions have temporarily relocated to other venues including the Pulaski Academy Connor Performing Arts Center and the Maumelle Performing Arts Center.

Ron Robinson Theater opens. Shortly before one Robinson closed, another opened.  The Central Arkansas Library System’s new Ron Robinson Theater opened. This multi-purpose venue has quickly become home to lectures (by the library, the Clinton School and others), films (in partnership with Arkansas Times, Little Rock Film Festival and others) and music (including the Arkansas Sounds series).  Named for famed Little Rock adman Ron Robinson, the public spaces pay tribute to his love of movies and music about Arkansas.

Music Music Music

  • As noted above, Arkansas Sounds has switched from a concentrated music festival to instead offering a variety of music styles and genres throughout the year at the new Ron Robinson Theatre. The music has ranged from Big Band to Klezmer to Country to Rock to Rap.  This is only one of the new music offerings in Little Rock.
  • South on Main completed its first full year of the weekly Local Live free music series sponsored by the Oxford American and Landers Fiat. South on Main also started a Jazz on Main series as well as increased their bookings of other musicians ranging from Rodney Block to Rodney Crowell.
  • Meanwhile, The Undercroft completed its first full year of (mainly) acoustic music offerings at the corner of Capitol and Scott Streets.

New Works of Art.

  • New sculptures were added to the Vogel-Schwartz Sculpture Garden and Riverfront Park as well as the Bernice Gardens.
  • In what may be the first for any symphony in the US, the musicians of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra commissioned a new piece in honor of the ASO board of directors. The work, composed by Christopher Theofanidis, was entitled The Wind and Petit Jean.  It was well-received by audience and musicians alike.
  • Ballet Arkansas sponsored a choreography competition “Visions” which featured five choreographers competing to be selected for a full-scale commission.  The winner was Hilary Wolfley whose work will be seen at the spring Ballet Arkansas presentation.
  • Finally, in conjunction with the 175th anniversary of Christ Episcopal Church (the oldest church in Little Rock to be at its original location), a new choral piece was commissioned. Daniel E. Gawthrop’s “Haste the Day” premiered on December 7.

mod delaneyThe Tonight Show with Kevin Delaney. Because Jimmy Fallon is really just a big kid at heart, he wanted to include periodic “cool” science experiments when he took over the “Tonight Show.”  After being contacted by a producer of Fallon’s show and an audition process, the Museum of Discovery’s Kevin Delaney was booked to appear.  He debuted on May 5 performing experiment with Fallon and returned on November 7. When not a guest of NBC, Delaney performs the same types of “Awesome Science” experiments for tens of thousands of children and adults at the Museum of Discovery.

New Festival of Arts. Acansa, a new multi-discplinary, multi-venue arts festival, debuted this year in September.  Over a five day period, ACANSA Arts Festival brought together audiences and cultural resources to present unique and exciting visual and performing works which celebrate the unique influence of the south and champion excellence and innovation in artistry.  There was theatre, dance, instrumental music, choral music, puppetry and visual art.

14 14 4Gridiron Returns. The talk of the return of the Star Wars movie franchise was not the only welcome news of returns. Gridiron, the biennial attorney fundraiser which spoofs politics, current events, sports and everything that is “sacred” to the general populace, returned after a hiatus.  Once again this effort was under the watchful eye of producer Judge Mary McGowan, the creative leadership of Jana Beard, and the writing prowess of the anonymous committee.  As has been the case in the past, many of the targets of the show good-naturedly showed up and laughed along in the audience.

Sculptures Returned.  Gridiron was not the only welcome return. Earlier this year several sculptures were stolen from the Vogel-Schwartz Sculpture Garden in Riverfront Park. After a media blitz about the theft, some people strolling through the park stumbled across a bag containing the missing sculptures. The pieces are in the process of being restored and will be reinstalled soon.

14 14 3Clinton Center turned 10.  Proving that you can come home again, quite a few of the people who were present for the opening of the Clinton Presidential Center in 2004 showed up again in 2014 to take part in celebratory festivities.  Among events included several lectures; a day of service benefiting the Arkansas Food Bank; a barbecue picnic; and a concert featuring Nick Jonas, Kool & the Gang and others which was hosted by Kevin Spacey.  The Clinton School also celebrated 10 years of lectures and innovative programs.

Preservation Concentration – The Quapaw Quarter Association marked the 50th Spring Tour this year. The event was co-chaired by First Lady Ginger Beebe and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith.  Later in the year, the QQA hosted its first Mid-Century architecture tour highlighting some of Little Rock’s buildings from this style. They ended the year with the news that they had purchased the William E. Woodruff House in east Little Rock. One of Little Rock’s oldest houses, it was built by the founder of the Arkansas Gazette.  They will shore up the building to try to ensure no further decay as the building is readied for its next phase.

Huzzahs

  • 14 14 2Reese Rowland, architect and principal at Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects of Little Rock, was named a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, awarded to fewer than 4 percent of AIA members.
  • Little Rock native Will Trice earned his third Tony Award in three years, this time for producing All The Way, the Best Play of 2014. His previous Tonys were for Porgy and Bess (Musical Revival-2012) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Play Revival-2013).
  • Arkansas native and frequent Little Rock performer Al Green was one of the 2014 Kennedy Center Honorees.
  • Little Rock’s Creative Corridor continued to rack up honors. The UA’s Community Design Center, which includes faculty and staff members from the school, won a 2014 Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects for its work on the Creative Corridor, on which it collaborated with Marlon Blackwell Architect of Fayetteville. The project also received the American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award for Analysis and Planning.

Transitions.

  • 14 14Sharon Priest, a longtime cultural advocate as a City Beautiful Commission member, Little Rock City Director, Little Rock Mayor and Arkansas Secretary of State announced her retirement after 12 years as Executive Director of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership.  Over the past dozen years, she has continued her cultural advocacy.
  • One of Priest’s successors as a member of the Little Rock City Board, Stacy Hurst, was named by Gov.-Elect Asa Hutchinson to be his choice to lead the Department of Arkansas Heritage. She will oversee seven agencies including three Little Rock museums: Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, Old State House Museum and Historic Arkansas Museum.
  • Following the closure of Starving Artists Cafe, the weekly Tales from the South program (which originated from there) had to scramble to find a place.  After several weeks of a completely nomadic existence, it is now settling into a rotating list of locations. The Arkansas Arts Center’s Best Impressions restaurant has been designated a “permanent” site for the first Tuesday of each month.
  • The free outdoor Movies in the Park celebrated its 10th season this year. Founders Blake Rutherford, Heather Allmendinger and Ben Beaumont were honored at the start of the season.  A few weeks into the season, the series screened the film Frozen and set a new record for attendance by logging over 7,000 attendees.
  • After the closure of the Riverdale cinema in 2013, the space sat vacant.  In June 2014, Matt Smith moved the Market Street Cinema operations into the Riverdale space. He upgraded the equipment at Riverdale (which was also a vast improvement over the equipment at Market Street).  The new Riverdale 10 shows a mix of first-run blockbusters as well as the independent films for which Market Street had been beloved.
  • The Studio Theatre was launched adjacent to the new Lobby Bar in downtown Little Rock.  In addition to producing its own performances, it is also the new home of the Community Theatre of Little Rock and Precipice Theatre.
  • Weekend Theatre founder Ralph Hyman retired as the Artistic Director of that group. He will continue to direct productions from time to time.

 

Hurst to lead Department of Arkansas Heritage

stacy-hurstYesterday Governor-Elect Asa Hutchinson announced that Stacy J. Hurst of Little Rock will be the next director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

“Stacy is extremely bright and hardworking, and she understands the importance of protecting and preserving our state’s incredibly rich history and culture. I have no doubt she will do a remarkable job in her new position as the director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage,” Hutchinson said.

As director of the agency, she will serve as the state’s chief preservation officer. She will oversee the Arkansas Arts Council, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Delta Cultural Center, Historic Arkansas Museum, Mosaic Templar’s Cultural Center, and Old State House Museum.

From January 2003 until December 2014, Hurst represented Ward 3 on the Little Rock City Board.  A native of Pine Bluff, she moved to Little Rock in 1985 after graduating from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville with a degree in Communications.  Since 1996, she has worked at Tipton & Hurst, Inc.  Prior to that, she worked for Arkansas Children’s Hospital Foundation for twelve years, retiring from the organization as Vice President.

From January 2007 to December 2008, she served as Vice Mayor of the City of Little Rock.  Prior to her election to the City Board, she served as co-chair of the Vision Little Rock, Recreation and Tourism workgroup.  She also served as a member of the Little Rock Zoo Board of Governors from 2000 to 2002.

Hurst chaired the three (3)-year community-wide planning process that led to a vision and Master Plan for the renovation of War Memorial Park.  Since the plan was adopted by the Board, over $2 million has been devoted to improvements within this signature park.  She was instrumental in the revitalization of the Midtown Redevelopment Corridor.  These efforts started with the Statement of Expectations planning document and a Design Overlay District adopted by the Planning Commission and board of Directors.  As a result of this work, tens of millions of dollars of private investment in the Midtown Corridor that continues today.

She was founding chair and board member of the City Parks Conservancy, which raises money for the City’s parks.  She has served as chair of the Nature Conservancy Board of Trustees in Arkansas.  She is currently a sustaining member of the Junior League of Little Rock, after having led the League’s efforts to purchase and restore the historic Women’s City Club in downtown.  Her numerous other community memberships include the Nature Conservancy,Arkansas Arts Center, Youth Home Board of Trustees, Arkansas Women’s Forum, CARTI Foundation Board of Trustees, Little Rock Garden Club, First Tee of Arkansas Board of Trustees, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary, Alzheimer’s Arkansas Advisory Board.