Birth of Little Rock’s 46th Mayor – Horace Knowlton – on Nov. 25, 1872

On November 25, 1872, future Little Rock Mayor Horace A. Knowlton Jr. was born.

In April 1920, he was elected City Clerk of Little Rock.  He served in that position until April 1931.  That year, he was chosen as the Democratic nominee for Mayor, denying incumbent Mayor Pat L. Robinson a second term.

The primary race against Mayor Robinson was close.  When the results were first announced, it looked as if Mayor Robinson had prevailed.  But after challenging ballots, Mr. Knowlton was declared the winner.  Since Little Rock was primarily a Democratic Party city, unsurprisingly Mr. Knowlton was elected Mayor in April 1931 and served two terms as Mayor.

He oversaw the start of some of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs in Arkansas during his tenure.  In 1934, he negotiated the purchase of Gillam Park for the City which established the first public park in Little Rock for African Americans.  While a segregated park would today be wrong, in the 1930s he was viewed as very progressive for providing a public park for African Americans.  One of his final acts as Mayor was to participate in the groundbreaking for the Museum of Fine Arts building in City Park (now a portion of the Arkansas Arts Center building in MacArthur Park).

Following his departure from public office, Mayor Knowlton and his wife (who had been an elementary school teacher) eventually moved to Florida and resided in the Tampa Bay area.  His son and grandson (Horace III and Horace IV) have both been lawyers in the Tampa Bay area.  Mayor Knowlton died on February 14, 1965.  He is buried in the Oak Grove cemetery in Conway.

Little Rock Look Back: Public facilities in Little Rock ordered to be integrated

Following the March 1962 lawsuit by twenty-two (22) African Americans seeking the integration of public facilities in Little Rock, Federal Judge J. Smith Henley issued a order on February 15, 1963.  Judge Henley ordered the end to segregation in City parks, playgrounds, golf courses, tennis facilities, community centers, and Robinson Auditorium.

Regarding the auditorium, the order allowed for single event, short-term leasing of wholly private meetings for membership and immediate friends of members.  But it did stress that there could be no racial discrimination in the selection of or terms of leases.

The judge’s order did not cover “other facilities not identified in the record.”  Which meant, the order did not apply to swimming pools.  At the time, War Memorial pool was operated for whites and Gillam Park pool was operated for African Americans.   The judge wrote that he saw no reason to extend it to facilities not mentioned, but did not rule out the ability for future lawsuits.  In asking for a summary judgement in January 1963, the defendants had listed many types of facilities but not swimming pools.

Judge Henley’s decision did not mean that a municipality was required to integrate.  It just could not enforce segregation.  As with many other court decisions at the time, it was narrow in scope.

The end result was that Little Rock facilities were now integrated.  Except for the swimming pools.  Those would have their own story.  It would take the 1964 Civil Rights act and more legal actions for that to happen.

Little Rock Look Back: Court orders integration of LR public facilities

Following the March 1962 lawsuit by twenty-two (22) African Americans seeking the integration of public facilities in Little Rock, Federal Judge J. Smith Henley issued a order on February 15, 1963.  Judge Henley ordered the end to segregation in City parks, playgrounds, golf courses, tennis facilities, community centers, and Robinson Auditorium.

Regarding the auditorium, the order allowed for single event, short-term leasing of wholly private meetings for membership and immediate friends of members.  But it did stress that there could be no racial discrimination in the selection of or terms of leases.

The judge’s order did not cover “other facilities not identified in the record.”  Which meant, the order did not apply to swimming pools.  At the time, War Memorial pool was operated for whites and Gillam Park pool was operated for African Americans.   The judge wrote that he saw no reason to extend it to facilities not mentioned, but did not rule out the ability for future lawsuits.  In asking for a summary judgement in January 1963, the defendants had listed many types of facilities but not swimming pools.

Judge Henley’s decision did not mean that a municipality was required to integrate.  It just could not enforce segregation.  As with many other court decisions at the time, it was narrow in scope.

The end result was that Little Rock facilities were now integrated.  Except for the swimming pools.  Those would have their own story.  It would take the 1964 Civil Rights act and more legal actions for that to happen.

Little Rock Look Back – Mayor Horace Knowlton

IMG_3227On November 25, 1872, future Little Rock Mayor Horace A. Knowlton Jr. was born.

In April 1920, he was elected City Clerk of Little Rock.  He served in that position until April 1931.  That year, he was chosen as the Democratic nominee for Mayor, denying incumbent Mayor Pat L. Robinson a second term.  The primary race against Mayor Robinson was close.  When the results were first announced, it looked as if Mayor Robinson had prevailed.  But after challenging ballots, Mr. Knowlton was declared the winner.  Since Little Rock was primarily a Democratic Party city, unsurprisingly Mr. Knowlton was elected Mayor in April 1931 and served two terms as Mayor.

He oversaw the start of some of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs in Arkansas during his tenure.  In 1934, he negotiated the purchase of Gillam Park for the City which established the first public park in Little Rock for African Americans.  While a segregated park would one day be viewed as wrong, he was viewed as very progressive at the time for providing a public park for African Americans.  One of his final acts as Mayor was to participate in the groundbreaking for the Museum of Fine Arts building in City Park (now a portion of the Arkansas Arts Center building in MacArthur Park).

Following his departure from public office, Mayor Knowlton and his wife (who had been an elementary school teacher) eventually moved to Florida and resided in the Tampa Bay area.  His son and grandson (Horace III and Horace IV) have both been lawyers in the Tampa Bay area.  Mayor Knowlton died on February 14, 1965.  He is buried in the Oak Grove cemetery in Conway.

Little Rock Look Back: Horace Knowlton, LR’s 46th Mayor

IMG_3227On this date in 1872, future Little Rock Mayor Horace A. Knowlton Jr. was born.

In April 1920, he was elected City Clerk of Little Rock.  He served in that position until April 1931.  That year, he was chosen as the Democratic nominee for Mayor, denying incumbent Mayor Pat L. Robinson a second term.  The primary race against Mayor Robinson was close.  When the results were first announced, it looked as if Mayor Robinson had prevailed.  But after challenging ballots, Mr. Knowlton was declared the winner.  Since Little Rock was primarily a Democratic Party city, unsurprisingly Mr. Knowlton was elected Mayor in April 1931 and served two terms as Mayor.

He oversaw the start of some of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs in Arkansas during his tenure.  In 1934, he negotiated the purchase of Gillam Park for the City which established the first public park in Little Rock for African Americans.  This was a very forward-thinking action at the time.  One of his final acts as Mayor was to participate in the groundbreaking for the Museum of Fine Arts building in City Park (now a portion of the Arkansas Arts Center building in MacArthur Park).

Following his departure from public office, Mayor Knowlton and his wife (who had been an elementary school teacher) eventually moved to Florida and resided in the Tampa Bay area.  His son and grandson (Horace III and Horace IV) have both been lawyers in the Tampa Bay area.  Mayor Knowlton died on February 14, 1965 and is buried in the Oak Grove cemetery in Conway.

Little Rock Look Back: Mayor Horace Knowlton

On this date in 1872, future Little Rock Mayor Horace A. Knowlton Jr. was born.

In April 1920, he was elected City Clerk of Little Rock.  He served in that position until April 1931.  That year, he was chosen as the Democratic nominee for Mayor, denying incumbent Mayor Pat L. Robinson a second term.  The primary race against Mayor Robinson was close.  When the results were first announced, it looked as if Mayor Robinson had prevailed.  But after challenging ballots, Mr. Knowlton was declared the winner.  Since Little Rock was primarily a Democratic Party city, unsurprisingly Mr. Knowlton was elected Mayor in April 1931 and served two terms as Mayor.

He oversaw the start of some of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs in Arkansas during his tenure.  In 1934, he negotiated the purchase of Gillam Park for the City which established the first public park in Little Rock for African Americans.  This was a very forward-thinking action at the time.  One of his final acts as Mayor was to participate in the groundbreaking for the Museum of Fine Arts building in City Park (now a portion of the Arkansas Arts Center building in MacArthur Park).

Following his departure from public office, Mayor Knowlton and his wife (who had been an elementary school teacher) eventually moved to Florida and resided in the Tampa Bay area.  His son and grandson (Horace III and Horace IV) have both been lawyers in the Tampa Bay area.  Mayor Knowlton died on February 14, 1965 and is buried in the Oak Grove cemetery in Conway.