Dr. John Kirk discusses impact of Urban Renewal efforts on race and housing in LR at tonight’s QQA Preservation Conversation

The latest Quapaw Quarter Association’s Preservation Conversations will take place tonight, December 12, at 6:00pm, with a 5:30pm reception.  Dr. John Kirk will discuss “Race and Housing: How Urban Renewal Changed the Landscapes of Little Rock.”

Join the QQA to hear Dr. John Kirk, George W. Donaghey Distinguished Professor of History and director of the Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock share findings of his research on the impact of Urban Renewal policies on Little Rock’s built environment.

Dr. John A. Kirk is the George W. Donaghey Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. His research focuses primarily on the history of the civil rights movement. He has published eight books and his ninth, an edited and annotated collection of primary documents titled The Civil Rights Movement: A Documentary Reader (New York: Wiley) will be published in early 2020.

Kirk has also published in a wide variety of journals, edited book collections, newspapers, and magazines, and he has held a number of grants and fellowships in both Europe and the United States, including at the Roosevelt Study Centre (Middleburg, The Netherlands), the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library (Boston), and the Rockefeller Archive Center (New York).

The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. It will be in the Mixing Room at the Old Paint Factory in the East Village, 1306 East 6th Street. Please RSVP here:.

Parking: There is parking directly in front of the doors that are marked “live”, “print”, “meet.” If those spots are taken. park in the parking lot to the right. There is also street parking in front of the building.

Entrance: Enter the event space through the door facing 6th Street marked “Meet.”

Little Rock Look Back: Suit filed calling to integrate LR public facilities

Attorney Wiley Branton, who filed the law suit

Attorney Wiley Branton, who filed the law suit

On March 8, 1962, 22 members of the Council on Community Affairs filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the city Board of Directors for the desegregation of “public parks, recreational facilities, Joseph T. Robinson Auditorium and all other public facilities.”  The members included journalists, dentists, attorneys, school teachers and other members of Little Rock’s African American professional class.  Attorney Wiley Branton, Sr., filed the suit.

Though the City’s Auditorium Commission was mentioned in the suit, they were not served with papers. So when media contacted them, they made no comment.

Historian John A. Kirk has written, “Members of the City Board were willing to admit that the desegregation of public facilities was ‘a foregone conclusion’ if the case went to court, but they remained committed to fighting the lawsuit if only to buy time to devise other methods to avoid desegregation.”

The decision was rendered in February 1963 that the City must integrate its public facilities.

In 1951, the City’s library facilities had been integrated followed by the bus system in 1956. Both of these had been accomplished without incident.  Of course the same was not said for the integration of the public schools in 1957.

In 1961, there had been attempts to have Robinson Auditorium integrated after Duke Ellington threatened to cancel a concert rather than play to a segregated crowd.  The Auditorium Commission refused to change its policy, and Ellington did not play the concert.

Based on efforts of the Council of Community Affairs working with white business leaders, downtown lunch counters and businesses were integrated starting in January 1963.  The efforts of the Council of Community Affairs and the white business leaders are commemorated in the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail with medallions in front of the Little Rock Regional Chamber building.

Little Rock Look Back: Suit filed calling for integration of LR public facilities

Attorney Wiley Branton, who filed the law suit.

On March 8, 1962, 22 members of the Council on Community Affairs filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the city Board of Directors for the desegregation of “public parks, recreational facilities, Joseph T. Robinson Auditorium and all other public facilities.”  The members included journalists, dentists, attorneys, school teachers and other members of Little Rock’s African American professional class.  Attorney Wiley Branton, Sr., filed the suit.

Though the City’s Auditorium Commission was mentioned in the suit, they were not served with papers. So when media contacted them, they made no comment.

Historian John A. Kirk has written, “Members of the City Board were willing to admit that the desegregation of public facilities was ‘a foregone conclusion’ if the case went to court, but they remained committed to fighting the lawsuit if only to buy time to devise other methods to avoid desegregation.”

The decision was rendered in February 1963 that the City must integrate its public facilities.

In 1951, the City’s library facilities had been integrated followed by the bus system in 1956. Both of these had been accomplished without incident.  Of course the same was not said for the integration of the public schools in 1957.

In 1961, there had been attempts to have Robinson Auditorium integrated after Duke Ellington threatened to cancel a concert rather than play to a segregated crowd.  The Auditorium Commission refused to change its policy, and Ellington did not play the concert.

Based on efforts of the Council of Community Affairs working with white business leaders, downtown lunch counters and businesses were integrated starting in January 1963.  The efforts of the Council of Community Affairs and the white business leaders are commemorated in the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail with medallions in front of the Little Rock Regional Chamber building.

Little Rock Look Back: Suit filed to integrate Little Rock facilities

Attorney Wiley Branton, who filed the law suit.

On March 8, 1962, 22 members of the Council on Community Affairs filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the city Board of Directors for the desegregation of “public parks, recreational facilities, Joseph T. Robinson Auditorium and all other public facilities.”  The members included journalists, dentists, attorneys, school teachers and other members of Little Rock’s African American professional class.  Attorney Wiley Branton, Sr., filed the suit.

Though the City’s Auditorium Commission was mentioned in the suit, they were not served with papers. So when media contacted them, they made no comment.

Historian John A. Kirk has written, “Members of the City Board were willing to admit that the desegregation of public facilities was ‘a foregone conclusion’ if the case went to court, but they remained committed to fighting the lawsuit if only to buy time to devise other methods to avoid desegregation.”

The decision was rendered in February 1963 that the City must integrate its public facilities.

In 1951, the City’s library facilities had been integrated followed by the bus system in 1956. Both of these had been accomplished without incident.  Of course the same was not said for the integration of the public schools in 1957.

In 1961, there had been attempts to have Robinson Auditorium integrated after Duke Ellington threatened to cancel a concert rather than play to a segregated crowd.  The Auditorium Commission refused to change its policy, and Ellington did not play the concert.

Based on efforts of the Council of Community Affairs working with white business leaders, downtown lunch counters and businesses were integrated starting in January 1963.  The efforts of the Council of Community Affairs and the white business leaders are commemorated in the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail with medallions in front of the Little Rock Regional Chamber building.

National Park Service Director, Local Leaders to Speak at Black History Month Town Hall Meeting

Feb 2 NPS eventLittle Rock Central High School National Historic Site in partnership with Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and the City of Little Rock, invite the public to join them for a Black History Month Town Hall Meeting entitled Arkansas’s Past-N-Motion to be held at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center at 5:30pm on February 2, 2016.

National Park Service Agency Director Jonathan Jarvis will serve as the guest speaker, and will discuss the National Parks Centennial Celebration, his tour to several of our nation’s civil rights-related historic sites and parks, and the importance of the National Park Service’s role in preserving and sharing our country’s history for future generations.  After his remarks, a panel discussion with local individuals will discuss several local institutions, and their roles and recent initiatives in preserving and sharing our city’s African American history, and its unique place in our nation’s civil rights movement.  This discussion will feature State Senator Joyce Elliott as moderator, and feature local panelists: Constance Sarto, Member, Mayor’s Tourism Commission; Dr. John Kirk – Director, UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity; and Charles Stewart, Chairman, Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.

This Town Hall Meeting will highlight the resources of Civil Right institutions both from a national and local perspective, and the role of the National Park Service as the nation’s storyteller as it prepares to embark upon its Centennial 100th Birthday celebration on August 25, 2016.

During Director Jarvis’ time in Arkansas, he plans to visit Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, engage Youth Leadership Academy members from Central High School as well as elementary students around the new White House youth initiative to get all 4th graders and their families to experience the places that are home to our country’s natural treasures, rich history, and vibrant culture FREE OF CHARGE! His visit to Arkansas will mark the start of Director Jarvis’ month-long endeavor to promote Civil Rights Sites during Black History Month.

They have also created the hashtag #ARPastNMotion to encourage local community groups to share information regarding any upcoming events relating to Black History Month.

For more information, please contact Enimini Ekong at (501) 396-3006 or Enimini_Ekong@nps.gov, or visit www.LittleRock.com/NPS.

Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site is located at 2120 Daisy L. Gatson Bates Drive, diagonally across the street from Central High School. The visitor center is open from 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday.  Admission is free. For more information call (501) 374-1957 or email chsc_visitor_center@nps.gov.

Fourteen new names added to 2015 Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail

2015 ACRHTLast 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.

Explore Little Rock’s civil rights history with new app

Little Rock-area residents and visitors have a new way to explore the city’s rich civil rights history.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Institute on Race and Ethnicity and Little Rock city officials  have unveiled the Arkansas Civil Rights History Tour app.

The free Apple and Android app guides users on an excursion through some of the city’s most influential historical sites, going back to the 1840s. Each of the 35 stops on the GPS-guided tour includes compelling narratives, historic photos, audio, and links to related content.

Tour stops range from the L.C. and Daisy Bates House to the Trail of Tears. The tour includes a total of three National Historic Landmarks, three National Register Historic Districts, and numerous buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

Narrated in both English and Spanish, the app also offers information about Jewish history in Little Rock, Hispanic migrations to Arkansas, and Native American tribes.

Organizers recommend app users begin their route at Broadway and West Ninth Street in downtown Little Rock, but the app can help people customize their own path.

A collaboration of the Institute on Race and Ethnicity, the City of Little Rock, the Mayor’s Tourism Commission, and KUAR, UALR’s public radio station, led to the creation of the Arkansas Humanities Council-funded app.

“The institute’s mission is to remember and understand the past, to inform and engage the present, and to shape and define the future in the area of race and ethnicity,” said Dr. John Kirk, director of the Institute on Race and Ethnicity.

“The tour app helps us to do all those things: It powerfully sheds light on the past, it allows people to engage with the past in the present moment, and it helps us to consider how those legacies and lessons can shape and define the future of the city and state.”

The app can be found in the Apple App Store and on Google Play by searching for “Arkansas history.”