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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

UALR to Honor Arkansas Civil Rights Icons

UALR’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity will host the 2nd annual Civil Rights Heritage Commemoration and Public Forum Saturday, July 14, at the Clinton Presidential Library, marking the one-year anniversary of the institute.

The Little Rock Nine in 1997
Will Counts Collection: Indiana University Archives

Markers will be placed along the Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail and will be unveiled during the commemoration ceremony to honor civil rights leaders. Those being honored are attorney Christopher Mercer Jr., publishers and NAACP civil rights activists L.C. and Daisy Bates, and the Little Rock Nine – Melba Pattillo Beals, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Thelma Mothershed, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas, and Minnijean Brown Trickey.

The events are free and open to the public.

The trail was inaugurated last year during the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders to honor their efforts to integrate interstate bus transportation, and the work of members of the Arkansas Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who organized lunch counter sit-ins in Little Rock in the 1960s.

This year, the day will begin with the unveiling of the new heritage markers on President Clinton Avenue from 9:45 to 10:15 a.m. with remarks by Bliss Ann Malone Hunter, one of the five Freedom Riders who came to Little Rock in 1961.

During the public forum, Roberts, of the Little Rock Nine, will speak on the legacy of the nine students who were the first African Americans to attend Central High in 1957. The forum will be from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Great Hall in the presidential library.

According to Professor and Institute Director Adjoa Aiyetoro, the forum will include a panel discussion on the educational legacy of the integration of Central High School and its current impact on Arkansas schools.

The Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Trail was established in 2011 to educate the public about civil rights history in Arkansas and to honor Arkansans who have devoted much of their lives to working for equal rights for citizens in the state.

The UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity was founded in July 2011 to seek racial and ethnic justice in Arkansas by remembering and understanding the past, informing and engaging the present, and shaping and defining the future. It serves as a resource for multidisciplinary, research-driven data – including historical, sociological, educational, and economic analyses – to combat structural racism and fulfill its mission.

For more information, contact the institute at race-ethnicity@ualr.edu or (501) 569-8932.